Additional press comments on PCB Killer whale wipe-out paper 27 Sept 2018:
Alison Lomax, Director of the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, said: ‘In 2016 Lulu the killer whale, one of the most heavily PCB-polluted animals recorded on the planet, washed up on the shores of the Isle of Tiree in Scotland. These chemicals had caused irreparable damage to her health and fertility.
We’ve seen first-hand the terrible impact these chemicals are having on killer whales and other marine mammals. With just eight adults left and no calves born into Lulu’s community in over 25 years, we believe PCBs will have wiped out much of the UK killer whale population within a generation. This is a completely avoidable man-made environmental disaster which needs urgent Government action.’
Hannah Freeman, Senior Government Affairs Officer at Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, said: ‘PCBs and other invisible chemicals are turning our rivers and seas into a toxic soup not only for marine mammals but also molluscs, fish and fish-eating birds. Be it through PCB laden paint falling into our rivers from bridges, leaching from landfill, or contaminated soil or sand being disturbed, 30 years after they were banned these chemicals are still making our waters deadly.
‘Where PCBs have been cleared from old industrial areas of production, such as San Francisco Bay, it has transformed wildlife populations. The Government must act now to make sure existing PCB stocks are disposed of safely and put strong safeguards in the Environment Act to ensure this sort of chemical catastrophe can’t happen again.’
Mark Simmonds OBE, Senior Marine Campaigner, Humane Society International, said: ‘Some thirty years ago, those of us who were environmental campaigners rejoiced when the PCBs were banned worldwide. Regrettably, it is now all too clear that the celebration was premature, and this latest research shows that they are even more persistent and deadly than we feared.
‘It is now clear that the PCBs threaten the survival of many orca populations. Our response now needs to be swift and decisive – we must remove other threats and stressors adversely affecting these populations and take all appropriate actions to remove the PCBs from their habitats. The other important lesson is that we should not repeat the mistake of history by allowing similar compounds to escape into the wider environment.’
Sonja Eisfeld-Pierantonio, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Policy Officer, said: 'What we are witnessing here is nothing short of an environmental tragedy. We cannot continue to stand by whilst a species is being wiped out by PCBs. The UK's west coast orca population is one group that are particularly at risk, only eight remain with no calves born in 25 years now. One of the group's adult orcas that died recently was found to have a shocking amount of PCBs in her system; well over 20 times the level where damage in marine mammals is known to occur. With no young being born, these orcas will soon be a thing of the past - it is time to stop making history'
Dr Michael Warhurst, Executive Director of CHEM Trust, said: ‘This disturbing research shows the scale of impact of these long-lived chemicals, and Governments need to do more to prevent their leakage into the environment. PCBs are only one group of a whole range of other long-lived chemicals that are still being produced, in spite of the fact that they are polluting the global environment. More needs to be done to take such chemicals off the market’