HC Deb 17 December 1956 vol 562 cc116-7W
116. Major Wall

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation to make a statement about the sinking of an oil barge in the River Thames on 8th December which resulted in the death of a large number of swans.

Mr. Watkinson

The barge "Stone Heath", in company with three other barges in tow, left Thameshaven on Friday, 7th December, with a cargo of light fuel oil. When the tug and tow reached Westminster Bridge about 3.30 a.m. on the following day the "Stone Heath" was seen to have taken a list to port. She heeled over on her side, her tow parted and she sank. The oil then escaped from the barge, caused extensive pollution of the river and considerable loss and suffering among the swans.

I much regret what has happened, as do the Port of London Authority, who have informed me that a summons has today been issued under the Oil in Navigable Waters Act, 1955, against the owners of the "Stone Heath". I have ordered a Preliminary Inquiry under the Merchant Shipping Acts into the cause of this casualty.

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