Exeter hospital warned after major oil spill
A "significant" oil spill which created a stink in a stream trickling through Exeter has left hospital bosses with a warning and a bill for a clean-up operation.
The Environment Agency had received numerous reports from concerned members of the public after they noticed a what was described as "strong odour" and "oily sheen" in a stream flowing through Ludwell Valley Park in Exeter.
The pollution was investigated and found to be coming from a surface water outfall in the park.
Absorbent booms and pads were deployed to soak up the oil, but the spill continued and mechanical equipment had to be brought in.
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Drainage contractors assisted by agency officers traced the source of the oil to the Royal Devon and Exeter (RDE) Hospital at Wonford where heating oil was found entering a surface water drain.
Chris Sargent, of the Environment Agency, said a clean-up was under way.
"We have formally warned the hospital about the incident and will seek to recover the cost of investigating the pollution," he said.
As soon as the source of the leak was found, the trust which runs the hospital immediately appointed firms of specialist consultants and contractors.
The leak was found to have been caused by a broken underground fuel line and had remained undiscovered for some time. The spill was significant and involved thousands of litres of oil.
Cliff Barnes, deputy director of strategic capital planning at the RDE, said action was taken the instant the source was identified.
"We have now decided to replace all oil-fired boilers to the residences blocks with gas so that this type of accidental leak can never happen again.
"This work is due to start in October this year."