Published: Tuesday 15 September 1998

Friendly fire: chasing away th CONSERVATIONISTS in the UK plan to use explosions and gunfire to scare migrant birds away from parts of a wintering site poisoned by an environmental disaster. They will lay down food in less polluted areas of a Spanish nature reserve that is home to thousands of birds flying south from the UK every year.

About a hundred days after pollution leaked into the Coto Donana Reserve in Andalucia, Spain, a wet-land area deemed the most important in Europe for waders and water fowl, scientists at the Institute of Terres-trial Ecology, Cambrid-geshire, eastern England, found concentrations of dangerous heavy rnetals in plants. These plants, important resources for a wide range of water birds, are about 100 times more contaminated than those elsewhere.

According to environmentalists, a dam at a mine upstream failed in April this year, sending an estimated five million cubic metres of acid and | heavy metal pollution down the river Guadiamar. More than seven million , tonne of toxic sludge have been spread over some 10,000 hectare.

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