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Bird Deaths (Mersey Estuary)

Volume 975: debated on Monday 10 December 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will now make a statement on the findings of the inquiry into the deaths of thousands of birds in the Mersey estuary.

Inquiries into the matter of the deaths of birds in the Mersey estuary are being carried out by the North-West Water Authority in co-operation with local industry, statutory bodies and voluntary wildlife organisations.I understand that relatively high levels of lead have been found in the organs of dead birds, although this has not yet been confirmed as the cause of death. The source of the lead has not been determined, and tests are still being made on samples of surface sediments and organisms from the mud flats of the estuary where the birds are known to feed. Results to date show no change in metal content from the normal level determined by annual survey since 1974.

In these circumstances, I see no cause at present to intervene in the work of local organisations, but I am watching developments closely.