Investigation into PIB pollution that killed 2000-plus seabirds in Cornwall is scrapped
Investigators have scrapped a probe into the UK's worst seabird pollution disaster in decades - because they can't find the ship responsible.
More than 4,000 guillemots, razorbills and other rare birds washed up along beaches in Cornwall in April and May coated in a glue-like sludge.
Experts identified the substance as polyisobutylene, or PIB, a glue-like lubricating additive typically found in engine oils.
They launched a hunt for the boat responsible for dumping it into the ocean.
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But the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced today it could not obtain enough evidence to link the pollution to any ship.
The MCA said it had collected data from all the vessels that passed through the region and looked through their detailed cargo manifests.
The marine safety body confirmed in a statement: "Despite the vast amount of information gathered, the MCA has not been able to obtain the evidence needed to link the pollution to any specific vessel.
"Unless new information comes to light, the investigation is now closed."
Dead and ailing birds started appearing on south coast beaches in February, prompting demands for a ban on discharges of PIB, which can currently be released legally under certain conditions.
The scale of the disaster accelerated in April May, killing more than 2,400 birds and leaving hundreds more requiring urgent medical help.
Wildlife groups and campaigners are furious that the culprit has not been found.
South East Cornwall MP Sheryll Murray said: "They did get as far as focusing on 16 ships but they didn't get further because there were no independent witnesses.
"They couldn't identify it to a specific time, so they didn't have evidence that would stand up if a prosecution was taken."