Safety fears raised after drilling machine collapses into Emsworth quay causing oil spill

OIL that was spilled into an estuary after a drilling platform collapsed has been contained, according to the authority that manages the site.

Wednesday, 31st July 2019, 1:54 pm
Updated Wednesday, 31st July 2019, 2:17 pm
Work to recover the machine went on late into the night. Picture: Supplied

After a drilling platform toppled off an embankment in Queen Street yesterday afternoon, reports emerged that oil had spilled into the harbour at Dolphin Quay.

Chichester Harbour Conservancy’s patrol team, which looks after the site, confirmed oil had spilled but insisted that it had been contained and recovered.

A spokeswoman said: ‘The patrol team deployed oil spill equipment at the site to contain the spill of hydraulic fluid and engine oil.

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‘They were later supported by the on-call specialist response team from Adler and Allen who deployed additional booming.

‘The patrol team’s initial booming was successful at containing the spill and actions to recover the oil are underway.

‘Monitoring of the site will continue over the next 48 hours.’

The drilling platform, owned by Farlington firm Burras Ltd, was being used to build foundations for a new development project on the quay.

Accountant Sarah Pinnell works across the street from where the incident happened.

She said staff worked ‘through the night’ to get the machinery back on its feet and out of the water.

‘Early in the evening it was still upended,’ she said. ‘They had three cranes plus a huge winch and steel cables.

‘Luckily it eventually came up – they were working through the night to get it sorted.’

David Mellish was walking a relative’s dog when the drilling rig toppled over.

The 64-year-old, of Gordon Road, Emsworth, said he was not surprised by the collapse.

‘‘They have been putting piles in there for a couple of days now but a lot of the ground there is very unstable,’ he said. 

‘Residents have been concerned about the ground stability there for a while. It really shouldn’t be developed upon. I’m not the only one who thinks so.’

PR consultant Lesley DiFonzo lives in Queen Street and was worried by the collapse.

‘I’m just amazed that this could have happened,’ she said. ‘It’s absolutely horrific. 

‘It was lucky it didn’t fall towards The Lord Raglan pub. That could have destroyed one of Emsworth’s oldest buildings.’

The News has approached Havant Borough Council for comment.