Thursday, 19 February, 2004
Further investigations have been recommended to pinpoint the source of chemical contamination of Loch Ryan in Wigtownshire.
Last year the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) confirmed higher-than-expected levels of banned toxin tributyltin in some shellfish.
TBT was used in specialist paint in the shipping industry but is now banned worldwide.
However, the source of the Loch Ryan traces has not yet been found.
The chemical is known to cause deformities in oysters and sex changes in whelks.
The highest concentrations of TBT in Loch Ryan were found in dog whelks.
Sepa said concentrations last year were lower than when measured in 2001, but that TBT continues to have an adverse impact.
It has now recommended further work to find out the cause of the contamination.
Peter Holmes, Sepa's tidal waters manager, said: "Work so far confirms contamination but Sepa have been unable to identify the source.
"The recommendations made will be put forward for action, with other essential work, and a decision on whether the work goes ahead will be known in March 2004."
The former ship-breaking yard at Cairnryan has been suggested as one possible source.
Last year, public health officials ruled out any connection between
the TBT contamination and an above average incidence of multiple sclerosis
in communities around the sea loch.
Copyright © 2004, BBC