AN OIL spill from a ship moored in the River Fal sparked a speedy clean-up operation to prevent a threat to local wildlife.
Staff from Truro's harbour office were called to the scene near the King Harry Ferry at 1.20pm on Tuesday.
They used an absorbent boom to encircle the oil which came from the ship Dona Liberta, moored near Tolverne Cottage.
Harbour officials have launched an investigation into the cause of the incident and were due to interview the ship's master yesterday.
One witness spoke of pungent fumes coming from the estuary while she made her way across the King Harry Ferry.
"We noticed terrible fumes while we drove down to the Philleigh side of the ferry," she said. "They got worse during the crossing and we wondered if it was coming from the ferry."
The ferry service operated as normal throughout the incident.
Cornwall maritime manager Andy Brigden said the ship's agents called his office to report the spill.
A team of five men pulled the oil-sodden material from the boom and within five hours had filled 20 blue sacks.
"Between 70 to 90 gallons of oil have been lost. The oil has been contained and we expect the majority of it to disperse overnight. The fumes will evaporate and pose no threat.
"We will return in the morning and assess the slick. We may need to use pans to scoop up any oil remaining on the surface of the water," said Mr Brigden.
The harbour authority, he added, would consider a prosecution but he would need to assess the full circumstances surrounding the spill.
Environment Agency (EA) officials were called to the scene and advised harbour staff during the clean-up operation.
Paul Gainey, from the EA, said the spill posed no major threat to sea life, although birds may be at risk if they ingest the oil.
"The waves will break down the oil. It is not a significant spill," he said.