British Divers Marine Life Rescue
British Divers Marine Life Rescue (photo: Steve Marsh)
British Divers Marine Rescue

News

2007-05-25 15:11:09

Successful 2 day operation ends in rescue of seal from Nuclear Power station

A team of expert volunteers from British Divers Marine Life Rescue [1] have successfully rescued and released an adult Grey seal from a large water inlet tank at Dungeness Nuclear Power Station [2].

The seal had managed to get through a grill and up an inlet pipe before entering the massive open air water holding tank. This tank had constantly churning water flowing through it to be used for the cooling of the turbine plant at the power station.

The adult male Grey seal weighing approximately 250kgs and 8ft in length [3], was not able to get out of the water and would quickly become exhausted and potentially in danger of drowning.

Martyn Butlin, British Energy press officer, said: "We called BDMLR then and they rescued the seal so when it happened again we knew who to call. Staff and contract partners here at Dungeness worked closely with the fantastic volunteers from BDMLR and I am delighted that the seal has been rescued and released."

Trevor Weeks, National Coordinator of BDMLR said, "We were delighted that British Energy called us to help with this unusual and logistically challenging problem. When we first saw the seal on Wednesday we could see that he was in good condition but we needed to act quickly to give him the ability to haul out and get out of the water. We attached two of our inflatable pontoon tubes, usually used for whale rescue, to a plywood board and a crane lowered this into the tank. The seal took only a few minutes to start using the raft."

On Thursday a special net was attached to the raft and rope threaded around the edge to form a bag in which to trap the seal. The net was placed on the raft and when the seal used the raft the bag was quickly closed catching the seal. He was winched out of the tank and into a seal carrying crate.

A veterinary surgeon quickly examined the large animal and gave the ‘all clear’ that the seal was OK to be released.

The seal was transported to a beach to the east of Dover, well away from Dungeness but still close to the Grey seal colonies at Goodwin Sands. Here he was released at 12.15am on Friday 25th.

It is believed that the seal was able to access the 18ft diameter water inlet pipe as a grill at the 'sea end' had become detached.