• Dorset Oil Spill Declared a Major Incident


Dorset Oil Spill Declared a Major Incident

Mar 27 2023

On a tranquil Sunday morning in Poole Harbour, Dorset, an unexpected disaster struck the largest natural harbour in Europe. A major incident was declared when 200 barrels of reservoir fluid, comprising 85% water and 15% oil, leaked into the water near Sandbanks. The leak occurred at a pipeline managed by Perenco, under Owers Bay. This once serene Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSI), home to various wading birds, was suddenly transformed into a polluted mess. 

Poole Harbour Commissioners (PHC), an independent body overseeing the harbour's activities, immediately activated their oil spill plan. They shut down the pipeline and placed booms on either side of the leak to contain the spill. In an attempt to minimize further damage, they urged the public to avoid swimming in the harbour and surrounding areas until further notice. 

Perenco's incident management team sprang into action, working tirelessly to stop the leak and begin the clean-up process. Franck Dy, Perenco UK's Wytch Farm general manager, assured the public that the situation was under control. He emphasized that the discharge of fluids had ceased and the spill was being contained. A full investigation was promised to determine the cause of the leak. 

Philip Broadhead, the leader of Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole Council, expressed his disappointment in the incident. While he acknowledged that the time for anger and investigation would come later, the immediate focus was on mitigating the impacts of the oil spill. He, along with the senior council team, worked to assess the leak's implications and determine any necessary actions. 

The Environment Agency provided support for the port authority and other partners in responding to the incident. They had received reports of a large amount of oil in Poole Harbour and acted swiftly to address the situation. Dorset Police also maintained communication with the PHC and offered support if required. 

As the clean-up operation continued, specialists in oil spill response were mobilized. The PHC announced that a further assessment of the clean-up efforts would be conducted the following morning. Meanwhile, the MPs for Poole and South Dorset requested an urgent government inquiry into the incident. 

Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council worked as part of a multi-agency response to address the major incident. Council leader Philip Broadhead declared the leak a major incident to ensure all relevant partner agencies were working together. With the combined efforts of various authorities, the clean-up process was underway. 

The people of Dorset held their breath, waiting for the harbour's natural beauty to be restored. The incident had taken a toll on the local community and environment, but there was hope that with swift action and cooperation, the impacts could be minimized. As the investigation into the cause of the leak continued, the residents of Dorset looked forward to a brighter, cleaner future for their beloved Poole Harbour. 


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