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Oil Spill at Salcombe Harbour Under Control

The Salcombe Harbour Team has quickly brought an oil spill, from a fishing boat under control, in the early hours of Tuesday 2 February.

Oil spill on the surface of the water along an estuary bank

The Harbour Team were alerted to a pollution incident at Batson Fish Quay and quickly activated their Oil Spill Contingency Plan after finding a quantity of red diesel in the water. Tier 1 booms were deployed around the vessel to make sure the spill was quickly contained and to stop oil spreading to sensitive estuary areas.

Although there is an oily sheen over the water, there is little sign of pollution on the shoreline, except for a small area of diesel against the western shore of Snapes Point. The Harbour Team are keen to reassure residents that a sheen is expected to remain on the water and will be broken down through natural degradation. 

Cllr Julian Brazil, Chairman of Salcombe Harbour Board, said: "I'm very thankful to the Harbour team for their quick actions which has avoided a more serious pollution incident in the estuary and harbour. The team train for these unfortunate possibilities and it this training that has today paid dividends.

"In the meantime, I urge residents and dog walkers to take extra care when doing their daily exercise until the residual oil has completely degraded."

Water conditions prevented the recovery of some remaining oil, although this will breakdown it may still present a hazard. Therefore as a temporary precaution, it is suggested that dog walkers avoid the affected shoreline, that walkers take extra care to wash their hands before eating, and that no wild shellfish are hand gathered from the shore.

Nigel Mortimer, South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty's Estuaries Officer, said: "Diesel is a complex cocktail of chemicals that are quite toxic to any aquatic environment. Unfortunately accidents do happen and the Harbour team have a contingency plan, the equipment and training all in place. They have done their very best to minimise the impact of this spill."

Issued: 1 February 2021

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