Emergency operation after large oil spill off Kent coast averts serious shoreline impact

Library Picture: The MCA say the oil could reach the shore of Deal on Thursday. Credit: ITV Meridian

An emergency operation to prevent an oil spill reaching Kent's coastline has helped prevent serious shoreline impact.

Pollution experts and Maritime Coastguard Agency teams have been dealing with an oil slick which first appeared 12 nautical miles off the coast. 

Modelling on Friday afternoon showed that, due to the changing direction of offshore winds, the oil slick is unlikely to make landfall.

Instead, the slick will come within five nautical miles of the coast near Dover this evening, before continuing to move away from shore.

The cause of the spill is still unknown and being investigated, but at ITV News Meridian understand a wreck on the seabed is thought to be one possible source.

Two large vessels have been sent with high-speed containment, decanting and recovery systems have been sent to capture as much of the oil slick as possible – with efforts focussed in Deal and Ramsgate.

The spill was first reported to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency by a Royal Navy vessel.

A spokesperson for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said:

"We believe we have now identified the source of the oil observed on the water off the Kent coast over the past few days and are in process of putting together a robust containment plan to ensure the oil will not reach our shores or harm the local wildlife in any way.

"We are confident that we are not looking at a large spill but one that is manageable for our expert teams. We are really pleased by the collective efforts of all of our emergency response partners in Kent."

Watch: Sherece Thompson, Marine Conservation Officer at Kent Wildlife Trust

A spokesperson for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: “We have already mobilised our oil spill response contractor to do all we can to deal with the consequences from this spill.

"Those contractors are working to remove pollutants and minimise any potential pollutants coming to shore.  

“We continue to monitor the situation through regular surveillance flights across the area and will update our ongoing response plan in response to that information.

"As well as this, we are working with local partners to ensure a coordinated response. 

“Samples of the oil will be collected for testing to see if the source can be identified.”