A MAJOR incident in Dorset which saw 200 barrels of oil leak into the water has sparked concern for people's health.
The fluid gushed into Poole Harbour around 2pm on Sunday.
The spill came from Wytch Farm oil refinery – the largest onshore oil field in western Europe.
Members of the public were warned not to swim in the harbour or the surrounding area until further notice.
The affected pipeline was shut immediately, with booms installed on either side of the leak.
However, Poole Harbour Commissioners (PHC), which regulates the waters, said anyone who may have come into contact with the water should wash with soap for 10 minutes.
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CEO of PHC Jim Stewart said: "It is unlikely that there will be any long term health effects from short exposures.
"Anyone who has come into contact with the spill should wash immediately with soap and water for 10 minutes.
"If eyes have come into contacts with the spill, they should be rinsed with water.
"Anyone who has been exposed to fuel oil and is feeling unwell please contact NHS 111 or seek medical attention from your GP."
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Dorset Police yesterday urged everyone to stay away from the water as oil collected on the surface.
A spokesperson said: "We have been asked to make the public aware of the below incident, which is being overseen by a number of local agencies.
"Please follow the advice not to swim in Poole Harbour or the surrounding area until further notice."
Philip Broadhead, leader of Bournemouth Poole and Christchurch Council, said an investigation into what happened will take place.
He said: "As leader of the council I will be working to see what implications this leak may have and what action we may need to take.
"It is of course extremely disappointing to hear of this event, and while there will be a time later for anger and investigation, our focus must now be on ensuring we can mitigate any impacts of this situation."
A clean-up operation was underway last night.
Further information on the incident is expected to be released today.
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Poole Harbour is the second largest natural harbour in the world.
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