AN oil spill in to the Haven waterway was much smaller than initially feared, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs has stated.

On January 3, it was feared as much as 10,000 litres of oil had leaked into the waterway from a jetty off Valero Pembroke Refinery.

The leak prompted a clean-up and containment operation, and atural Resources Wales (NRW) issued an enforcement notice to suspend the use of two fuel pipelines on the Valero Refinery jetty.

At the time of the January 3 incident, a spokesman for Valero said: "An operation is underway to respond to a loss of petroleum product into the Milford Haven Waterway.

"Valero has activated its contingency response plans and reported the incident to local authorities.

"Valero is working in coordination with response agencies to contain the effects from the release of oil.

"As ever the safety and well-being of our employees, contractors and communities is Valero’s highest priority."

In an official Welsh Government statement, Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs has now said: “Further to my statement of January 10, I wish to provide members with an update on the oil spill pollution incident in Milford Haven.

“Further to the initial report of pollution, the multi-agency response team has focused on minimising the impact of the oil on the wildlife and local environment.

“Following an inspection of the relevant fuel pipelines and additional assessments, it is now understood no more than 500 litres of oil was released in the January 3 incident, significantly less compared to the initial volume assessment of between 7,000 to 10,000 litres.

“The clean-up operation is expected to be scaled down this week, subject to inspections, booms installed on the days following the incident to contain the oil spill in Milford Haven waterway, will be removed this week.

“Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Valero and multi-agency partners have continued to work together to survey the affected areas since the incident and are satisfied they have contained as much oil as possible.

The investigation into how this incident happened is ongoing, in order to consider what further action is required to prevent this happening again. NRW will not allow Valero to reopen the pipelines until it is satisfied they can operate without causing further damage to the local environment.

“A programme of monitoring and surveying will continue over the coming weeks and if people become aware of any pollution they should contact the NRW incident hotline on 03000 65 3000.”