CONCERNS have been raised about a "major pollution incident" at the River Esk in Musselburgh, after large quantities of what is believed to be petrol or diesel got into the river.

And fears have also been expressed for the health of the swans and other wildlife that frequents the river.

Local resident Ian Andrews, a retired geologist, spotted the spillage on Friday at about 12.30pm while out for a walk.

Strathallan Times: A spillage, thought to be possibly diesel or petrol, on the River Esk is being investigated

He tweeted about what he had seen, saying: "Large spillage of diesel/petrol in the Esk at Musselburgh today."

The birdwatcher, photographer and author/editor, said that the spillage stretched from the town centre down to the river mouth.

He said: "I’m a birdwatcher, so made particular note that all the birds had left the river – no mallards, goldeneye and the geese, goosander and Canada geese were all on the shore. The mute swans were the only birds in the river."

A number of Musselburgh residents have reported that petrol remains in the river today (Saturday).

Resident Patricia Enot, an environmental consultant, said: "The entire stretch of river, from the Cowpit to the mouth of the river in Musselburgh, and the sea beyond, are affected.

"People have reported irritated eyes and nausea from the contamination just by walking along the river as it is so strong.

"[It is] likely to be solvent/petrol."

A spokesperson for East Lothian Council said on Friday: "One of our countryside rangers spotted an unusual residue that seemed to be discharged into the River Esk from the Craigie Burn just after noon today.

"Officers from the council’s protective services team have gone out to the location and are assisting SEPA staff with investigations, including taking a range of water samples."

She added: "There were six swans being fed by members of the public on the east side of the river.

"At that time, the discharge was mainly flowing down the west side of the river.

"Further checks will be made but there doesn’t appear to be any adverse effects to wildlife."

However, reports have been made today of swans looking unwell after coming into contact with the petrol.

Residents who see lethargic or unwell birds on the river should call the Scottish SPCA on 03000 999 999.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) said: "SEPA would like to thank members of the public for reporting pollution in the River Esk at the Musselburgh area.

"SEPA officers are in attendance to investigate the source and determine what further action needs to be taken. We will continue to monitor the situation for any impacts.

"We would ask the public to contact SEPA immediately if they witness any pollution by using our 24-hour online form at or by calling the SEPA Pollution Hotline on 0800 80 70 60."