Oil from the UK’s largest onshore oil field has leaked into the water in Dorset, leading to a major incident being declared.
Approximately 200 barrels of reservoir fluid was released into Poole Harbour after the leak occurred at Wytch Farm oil field in south-west England on Sunday.
Perenco UK confirmed the “limited” leak came from one of its well sites, and that the pipeline was shut down, and booms used to control the spread of oil were placed on either side of it.
Jim Stewart, CEO of Poole Harbour Commissioners, said: “A major incident has now been declared and a gold command unit has been established.
“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.
Philip Broadhead, the leader of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, said in a statement: “The Wytch Farm oil field in the Purbecks has been operating since 1979 and is one of the largest onshore oil fields in Europe.
“We have today been advised by the operators that there has been a leak from the facility. Whilst this has been contained, we are told that oil has escaped into the water and surrounding area.
“We are liaising closely as part of long-established mechanisms with a variety of parties as this situation unfolds.”
An Environment Agency spokesperson 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.”