Irish Sea diesel spill came from Larne Caterpillar factory

An aerial shot showing the extent of the diesel spillage off the Larne coastline on Saturday.  INLT 25-688-CON  Pic by Damian Hemy

An aerial shot showing the extent of the diesel spillage off the Larne coastline on Saturday. INLT 25-688-CON Pic by Damian Hemy

Caterpillar has confirmed it was responsible for the massive diesel leak along the Larne coastline at the weekend.

The manufacturing giant discovered a diesel leak at its Larne facility on Saturday morning.

And while the source of the leak was identified and repaired, it was too late to prevent some of the fuel being discharged into the sea.

A Caterpillar spokesman added: “A significant proportion of the diesel was contained on site, however, a quantity had also entered a storm drain.

“We have employed the services of an accredited environmental contractor to assist with the clean-up, and we continue to work closely with the NI Environment Agency. The safety of our employees and the environment around our facilities is our main priority in this regard.”

The NI Environment Agency confirmed that “a significant spill of red diesel” occurred north of Larne Harbour.

A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs added: “Following a report received via the Water Pollution Hotline on Saturday morning, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency has been investigating a water pollution incident near to the north of Larne Harbour.

“Over the course of the weekend, the Agency has investigated and monitored oil ‘sheening’ northwards along the coast from the Harbour as far north as Southtown.

“NIEA notified the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Larne Port, and the local council on Saturday, and is continuing to work with all relevant stakeholders.

“NIEA staff are continuing to assess the impact and will continue to monitor the situation. NIEA has lifted samples and is continuing to gather evidence with a view to taking appropriate enforcement action.”

The spokesperson added that in cases where the source of pollution can be traced, the NIEA Enforcement and Prosecution team will decide on an appropriate course of action, which may include an enforcement notice, or prosecution under the Water (Northern Ireland) Order 1999.

READ MORE: Probe after massive diesel spill along Larne coastline