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Monday 23 October 2017

Warning as killer 'fatbergs' wash up at Curracloe

bY dAVID TUCKER

Picture of one of the fatbergs courtesy of Dr Peter Murphy.
Picture of one of the fatbergs courtesy of Dr Peter Murphy.

PET owners have been warned to avoid letting their dogs run free on part of Curracloe beach after killer palm oil 'fatbergs' washed ashore at the popular beauty spot.

'The area of risk extends from the Raggedy Gap to the Raven Point. Avoid this area if possible when walking pets,' Dr Peter Murphy, from Wexford-based Summerhill Veterinary Hospital said in its warning posted on social media.

While no other fatbergs have been spotted elsewhere in Wexford, there is a strong possibility they could wash up on other beaches in the county.

Dr Murphy said the vets had recently treated a dog that had eaten some of the rancid oil on Curracloe beach.

The animal, which had consumed very little of the oil, fortunately recovered with treatment, however, the substance can kill.

The palm oil itself is highly toxic, causing extreme gastric irritation and ulceration. Following absorption, it results in untreatable, irreversible liver and kidney damage with certain death.

Summerhill said the fatberg blocks are composed of rancid palm oil extract which has been in the sea for some time - in this case maybe five years since it was dislodged from a ship in the English Channel.

They appear as a semi-solid block of white material which has a soapy consistency and a slight smell reminiscent of diesel.

The blocks break up into tiny fragments which are easily scavenged by dogs loose on the beach.

Dr Murphy warned people against handling the suspect material and said pet owners walking their dogs on possibly contaminated areas of the beach should keep them on leads.

'If you suspect your dog may have ingested some material bring it to the hospital immediately where it may be possible to vomit some of the material from the dog. Wexford County Council and the EPA have been notified of the problem.'

Wexford People

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