Northern Ireland news

InfraStrata confirm ‘minor oil spillage' at Woodburn Forest drilling site

InfraStrata, the company behind the oil drill project at Woodburn Forest, has confirmed that an oil spill took place over Easter.
John Monaghan

THE company behind an exploratory oil drill project in Co Antrim has confirmed there was an oil spill at its site over the Easter weekend.

InfraStrata, which is planning to drill for oil at Woodburn Forest near Carrickfergus, admitted that there had been a "very minor mineral oil spillage."

Protesters objecting to the project had last week called for an investigation after two statutory bodies, Northern Ireland Water and the Environment Agency, provided conflicting reports about the oil leak.

A InfraStrata spokeswoman said: "NIEA Water Management Unit attended the site on Monday 28th March in response to a complaint of a pollution incident on the night of Sunday 27th March at the Woodburn Forest well site.

"No work activities had taken place on site since late afternoon on Friday March 25. Since that time all plant equipment was securely parked on the access track within the security area near the site entrance and non-operational over the Easter holiday period.

"Following inspection NIEA Water Management Unit officials advised InfraStrata’s on-site personnel that they had observed a very minor mineral oil spillage and no action was required by the company."

Those objecting to the drill are concerned about the potential impact on water supplies provided by Woodburn reservoir to thousands of homes across Co Antrim.

The Stop the Drill campaign group said it believed the leak was caused by an excavator being used to secure fencing on the site, where exploratory drilling is expected to begin in May.

The Environment Agency said inspectors had observed "evidence of a very minor mineral oil spillage which had entered a small waterway which runs across the InfraStrata site".

However, NI Water said its inspectors who also visited the scene could "find no evidence of a spillage."

NI Water, which leased the site to InfraStrata, has previously insisted that the project will not compromise the water supply.

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