Pipe leaking oil into Mersey to be removed in days

A pipe leaking oil into the River Mersey for nearly a month is expected to be sorted soon.

Oil began spilling out of old pipes connected to a dilapidated pier in Rock Ferry on 25 April after work was carried out to remove part of it. Videos shared with the LDRS showed thick black oil dripping into the banks of the Mersey with material still leaking from a broken pipe three days later.

The person who took the videos at the time said he was concerned about the impact on wildlife, adding, “The smell is horrific and stinks to high heaven of oil.” On 18 May, he took more videos showing thick black oil still pooling on the mud at the base of one of the broken pipes.

The Environment Agency said there has been “minimal dispersion of oil in the water and no environmental issues.” Work to remove the final section of pipe is expected to be finished within days.

The pier’s crane collapsed in 2019 and since then, the safety and condition of the structure has continued to worsen due to severe winter storms and vandalism. In order to stop people climbing the structure, the Rock Ferry Maritime Hub which now owns the pier and slipway hired a contractor to try and stop trespassers getting onto the pier.

However as parts of the pier were taken down, oil left in the pipes emptied out onto the river bank which is in a protected area. Emergency action had to be taken to limit the impact of the leak and part of the waterfront was closed off.

On 21 May, Cliff Renshaw from the Rock Ferry Waterfront Trust said, “Apart from the sludge under the leaking joint, all the other sludge on the seabed has been removed but it appears the latest spill came from the sloping pipe which still had some residual sludge which was warmed by the hot weather on Saturday causing it to leak out of the open end of the pipe. This is being sealed off this morning.

“In conjunction with a structural engineer, our specialist Civil Engineering contractor has prepared a method statement to stabilise the pier and resolve the leaks, but the problem is that the contractor cannot remove that last section of pipe because it is supporting the remaining part of the fragile pier which must be made stable before they can remove that section of pipe and cap it off.”

He added, “They are actively working to make the pier safe so the last piece of pipe can be removed and any final spillage can then be cleaned up. The contractor confirms it will all be completed within the next four days.”

An Environment Agency Spokesperson said, “Our officers responded quickly when this incident was first reported on 25 April 2024. They noted minimal dispersion of oil in the water and no environmental issues.

“We are working with those responsible for the clean-up of the sand and structure, Peel Ports, as well as the Marine & Coastguard Agency.

“We continue to visit the site to ensure the work is completed in line with pollution recovery standards.”

Image: Oil leaking from pipe into Mersey on 18 May

Why not follow birkenhead.news on Facebook, Twitter, and Threads? You can also send story ideas or letters to the editor to news@birkenhead.news