Northern Ireland news

Call for investigation into contradictory reports of Woodburn oil leak

Pictures reportedly showing an oil spill at Woodburn Forest were posted online by the Stop the Drill campaign group
John Monaghan

PROTESTERS objecting to an oil drill project in Co Antrim have called for an investigation after two statutory bodies provided conflicting reports about an apparent oil leak over the Easter weekend.

The Stop the Drill group, which has been campaigning against plans by InfraStrata to drill for oil at Woodburn Forest near Carrickfergus, questioned how the Northern Ireland Environment Agency could confirm a spill while NI Water said there was no leak.

Spokeswoman Majella McCarron said: "It is very alarming that one state agency says there was a leak and another says there wasn't.

"The hydrocarbons were spilled into the watercourse, which flows into the North Woodburn river which in turn flows into reservoirs, which supply drinking water to more than 131,000 people and 1,800 streets across Belfast and Co Antrim."

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.

The 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.

Ms McCarron said: "The other issue here is that the fence on site is going to be completed very soon and once it goes up then the public will not be able to access the site and won't be able to see what is happening."

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access