The Environment Agency is awaiting the results of ongoing tests after it was discovered that a fuel oil tank at Reeth Community Primary School had been leaking for weeks and may have entered watercourses feeding the River Swale.
One resident, who did not want to be named, said locals had been concerned about the smell of oil near the school since mid-December last year, but the Environmental Protection Agency only became aware of the problem a month later.
“Thousands of liters of oil had already spilled into the farmer’s water pipe by the time the Environment Agency came to check it out,” they said.
“Farmer Says Their Animals’ Water Was Contaminated.”
The Environment Agency became aware of the situation only on January 22, but speculations about a potential environmental hazard have been circulating on social media since last month.
Work is currently underway to remediate the farmer’s land, while testing of watercourses to assess the effects of the oil spill continues.
North Yorkshire County Council’s assistant director of strategic resources, Howard Emmett, said: “Reeth Community Primary School reported a suspected oil tank leak in January.
“The local authority supported the school to take immediate action and put an interim solution in place to stop any further leakage and restore heating and hot water to the school. This was done without disruption to the students’ learning. Now the purchase of new fuel oil is in progress.
“It was discovered that part of the oil leaked onto a nearby field. The Environment Agency has been notified and remediation and soil investigations are underway.
“The water source is also being tested and we are now awaiting the results of these studies. Preventive measures are also in place to stop oil from seeping into the waterway.”
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Environment Agency added: “Since receiving reports of the oil spill at Rita Primary School on Sunday 22 January, our officers have been regularly on site using absorbent pads to absorb the oil.
“Fortunately, there are no signs of oil entering the nearby river or any signs of harm to wildlife. The responsibility has now been transferred to the partners, and we continue to work closely with them. We encourage people to report environmental issues to the Environment Agency via our 24/7 incident hotline 0800 807060.”