Chevron fined for Dorset oil spill

Oil giant Chevron has been ordered to pay £11,500 following a diesel leak at its Poole terminal that put a nature reserve at risk of pollution.

In October 2006 the Environment Agency was alerted to a leak from a crack in a concrete bund designed to capture spilled diesel from a storage tank.

An investigation concluded that around 29,000 litres of diesel had seeped into the floor beneath the storage tank.

Local drains around the terminal and Poole Harbour were checked for contamination but were found to be clear.

Two days later, however, Wessex Water reported that most of the diesel had reached its foul water storage drains, forcing the water company to breach the conditions of its discharge consent for a brief period.

The court heard how Chevron had been advised by the Environment Agency on a number of occasions to replace sealant between the leaking tank and the bund but that there was no evidence that the work had ever been carried out.

Although only around 29,000 litres of diesel was released, the tank had a capacity of 1.5 million litres.

“This was a major fuel spill that could have resulted in serious pollution of Poole Harbour, an internationally important wildlife site,” said the EA’s Julian Wardlaw.

“The majority of the diesel entered Wessex Water’s foul sewer network where it caused serious operational problems, but the water company prevented major pollution of the Harbour by intercepting and containing the spilled fuel.

“Had there been heavy rainfall at the time, diesel would have escaped from the sewer network into Poole Harbour.”

“This incident could have been avoided if Chevron had acted on a consultant’s advise and carried out repairs and improvements to [the] tank and the surrounding concrete bund.”

Sam Bond

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie