North Sea spills on the rise

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Sixty-nine oil and chemical spills in the North Sea have been reported in three months. Eighteen companies were named in a table published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. The most recent incident was a gas leak at Total's Elgin platform on 25 March.

Professor Andrew Watterson, the head of the occupational and environmental health research group at the University of Stirling, accused companies of playing down "the potentially catastrophic consequences" of gas and oil leaks. "These are very worrying figures that cannot be slicked over by government agencies and industry," he said. He blamed "corporate failures" for polluting the sea, and pointed out that the number of reported chemical leaks had more than doubled since 2005.

Oil & Gas UK, which represents offshore companies, said the leaks were "relatively small" and many of the chemicals "benign". BP and Shell were among the firms listed, with BP reporting the highest number of incidents at 23. Other companies included EnQuest, British Gas and Nexen.

PA

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