SURFERS have hit out after they paddled out into the Hartlepool sea and swam into a stream of diesel.
Simon Gettings and a pal went out in the surf in the Newburn Bridge area between the town and Seaton Carew on Thursday night.
But he was shocked when he noticed a large amount of fuel floating on the water.
The pollution was so bad that Simon, 24, turned back.
He has reported the incident to Government watchdog the Environment Agency.
Simon, from the Stranton area of town, said: “I paddled out and my mate followed later.
“You could smell the diesel straightaway, it was such a strong smell.
“It was right across the water.
“The guy I went out with said he had never seen it that bad, and neither had I.
“I thought I’m not going to attempt to surf in this because I didn’t know if it would sting my face or what so I just paddled back and got out.”
Simon, who works for a funeral company in Wingate, is a member of the campaign group Surfers Against Sewage.
He added: “Not long ago I spent two hours in the water in that area because the surf was that good.
“It is a shame, because it spoils it for Hartlepool.
“There is lots of building work going on along the promenade to make it look better.
“A lot of people walk along there, but if we’ve got a beach that’s full of diesel and fuel it puts people off.”
The Environment Agency said it investigated Simon’s report but could not find any sign of the diesel.
A spokesman said: “An officer attended very quickly but wasn’t able to see or smell anything.
“We looked at three separate spots across that area and looked at the water but could not see anything.
“Water samples had also been taken earlier that morning and hadn’t reported anything either, so we are unable to progress it.”