Beachgoers are warned not to go in the sea in Poole after oil leak
‘Stay out of the water’: Beachgoers are warned not to go in the sea or on the sand after huge oil leak from pipeline into Poole Harbour in major incident
- Large oil pipeline leak into the water prompts major incident to be declared
- 200 barrels of ‘reservoir fluid’ spilled into important body of water in Dorset
- UK Health Security Agency issued warning to public to not swim in the area
- Anyone who has come into contact with the spill should immediately wash
Swimmers were today warned to stay ‘stay out of the water’ at Poole Harbour after a large oil pipeline leak into the water, prompting a major incident to be declared.
About 200 barrels of ‘reservoir fluid’ – which can contain crude oil – spilled into the internationally important body of water in Dorset from an underwater pipeline.
The area – close to the millionaires’ row of Sandbanks – is the world’s second largest natural harbour, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Protection Area.
The UK Health Security Agency issued a warning to members of the public that they ‘should not swim in Poole Harbour or the surrounding area until further notice’. The council defined the surrounding area as ‘water and beaches within Poole Harbour’.
Officials said anyone who has come into contact with the spill should immediately wash with soap and water – and if eyes were in contact, rise them with water.
Poole Harbour in Dorset is pictured yesterday after a large oil pipeline leaked into the water
The RSPB Arne nature reserve in Poole, pictured yesterday, is near where the leak occurred
Roads to the coast near Norden in Dorset were closed yesterday amid the major incident
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council told people to avoid swimming in the harbour
Phil Broadhead, leader of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, said today that the incident was ‘just unacceptable, there’s no other words for this’.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning: ‘When I first heard about this yesterday, clearly I was angry and disappointed.
‘We have the second largest natural harbour in the world here, award-winning beaches, a very delicate ecosystem. So the natural reaction is always to be very worried.
‘From what we are hearing – we’re not the lead agency on this, Poole Harbour Commission is, clearly it’s an outside body that runs the facility – it’s a small leak of reservoir fluid, so about 85 per cent water and 15 per cent oil, which was caught fortunately quite quickly. They’ve stopped any further leaks.
‘One hopes at the moment that we have avoided any real disaster here. We won’t know more until this morning but the early indications are already that the surface slick is already dispersing.’
Poole Harbour Commissioners (PHC) has put its oil spill plan into action and also warned the public not to swim in the surrounding area.
The area is the world’s second largest natural harbour and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest
Poole Harbour Commissioners warned the public not to swim in the area until further notice
The RSPB Arne nature reserve in Poole is just around the corner from where the leak occurred
Anyone who has come into contact with the spill should wash with soap and water
The wetlands are recognised as being internationally important for wildfowl and it is an important area for breeding and overwintering water birds.
Just outside Poole Harbour, Poole Bay is a Marine Conservation Area. The seabed features ten types of habitat and is home to more than 360 marine species.
Mr Broadhead added: ‘As soon as the oil or any of the material gets ashore, that’s when everything becomes much more difficult and has the bigger ecological effects as well.
‘In these circumstances you ideally want it out to sea and dispersing as quickly as possible.
‘We’ve got experts coming in this morning through the lead agency on this to assess further, so we’ll know more shortly.
‘But what we are urging people in the area at the moment is just to stay out of the water, no recreational activities, and if you do get in contact with water, just to wash with soap and water.
‘But we’re not talking huge amounts, terrible though this is, and we are hoping and keeping our fingers crossed that this will disperse quickly.’
The area is close to Sandbanks, the exclusive peninsula that is home to Britain’s most expensive waterfront homes and has an award-winning Blue Flag beach that attracts thousands of visitors in summer.
The pipeline is operated by Perenco, which runs nearby Wytch Farm, the largest on-shore oil field in Western Europe. The leak happened under Ower Bay.
The millionaires’ playground of Sandbanks sits very close to where the pipe leaked in Poole
The council leader said the incident was ‘just unacceptable, there’s no other words for this’
About 200 barrels of ‘reservoir fluid’ spilled into the internationally important body of water
The pipeline was turned off and floating barriers known as booms were placed either side of the leak.
Perenco and PHC have commissioned two companies specialising in oil spill incidents to help with the clear-up.
In a statement PHC said: ‘PHC have activated their oil spill plan and are working with a number of organisations. A major incident has been declared and a gold command unit has been established.’
It added: ‘We would advise members of the public that they should not swim in Poole Harbour or the surrounding area until further notice.
‘Anyone who has come into contact with the spill should wash immediately with soap and water. If eyes have come into contact with the spill they should be rinsed with water.’
Franck Dy, Perenco UK’s Wytch Farm general manager, said: ‘Any spill is an extremely serious matter and a full investigation will be launched to ascertain what happened in Poole Harbour.
‘It is important to stress that the situation is under control, with the discharge of fluids having been stopped and the spill is being contained.’
The firm confirmed a clean-up operation is under way.
An Environment Agency spokesman said: ‘We have received reports of a large amount of oil in Poole Harbour and we are supporting the port authority and other partners in responding to this incident.’
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