Oil spill from North Wales begins affecting Lancashire and Merseyside as tar balls wash up

Anyone who sees a tar ball similar to this one is asked to contact Rangers at Green Sefton. Credit: Sefton Council

"Tar balls" have begun washing up on beaches in the North West after an oil spill off the North Wales coast.

Authorities are investigating after almost 80,000 litres of oil were released into the sea after pipeline failure.

The line, between Conway and Douglas in the Irish Sea, had a failure approximately 20 miles (33km) from the coast.

The fuel line has now been shut off and Eni UK, who operate the pipeline, say they received reports of the spill on Monday, 14 February.

Balls of congealed tar from the spill have been spotted along the coastline on Blackpool as tidal conditions and extreme weather conditions push the spill inland.

Natural England said it is monitoring the impact and teams are in place in case any oil spreads to beaches off the Welsh and Lancashire coasts.

Sefton Council are also warning people to be on alert for the "tar balls" across its beaches, including in Ainsdale and Formby - but it has stressed disruption to the coastline is "minimal".

It added: "Posters have been erected along our coastline to inform visitors to our beach of this issue and we would ask that dogs are kept supervised at all times.

"If you come across these deposits, in the first instance please call 0151 934 2961 to report this to the Rangers at Green Sefton."

Conwy to Douglas Oil Complex pipeline ‘was shut immediately’ after the pipeline failure. Credit: PA images

In a statement on 14 February, it said: "Eni UK Ltd confirms that a limited hydocarbons release of less than 500 barrels occurred on Monday 14 February from its pipeline between the Conwy and Douglas Installations, approximately 33 km from the North Wales coast.

"Details of the incident are still being confirmed. The Conwy to Douglas line was shut immediately and remains off.

"All the relevant authorities have been promptly informed and we are working in full collaboration with them. 

"There is no impact to any personnel on the installations.

"An Incident Management Team has been mobilised and is working closely with the relevant authorities and response contractors to understand the situation and minimise any effect to the environment.

A further statement will be made as soon as more information becomes available."