A video has captured the moment a digger became stuck in the mud in Brooklands Lake.
Workers were dredging the lake on the border of Worthing and Lancing this morning when the hydraulics appeared to snap on one of the diggers at around 10am, causing it to spray fluid and get stuck in the mud.
Five Rivers Environmental was awarded a contract to carry out the environmental work to revitalise the attraction at the heart of Brooklands Park in Brighton Road by Worthing Borough Council last summer. No-one at the company was available to comment.
It appeared to be sinking in the mud - but a Worthing Borough Council spokesman categorically denied such claims.
They said: "We can confirm there has been a minor mechanical fault on one of the diggers being used by contractors carrying out improvement works on Brooklands Lake.
"While an excavator was moving, a hydraulic hose has blown leading to the leak of a small amount of biodegradable oil.
"Such instances are not uncommon on projects like this - it just happens on this occasion, it was captured on a long lens camera.
"Our contractors are working hard to get the issue fixed.
"All plant machinery at Brooklands Lake operates on biodegradable hydraulic oil, as is environmental best practice. This, combined with the deployment of absorbent spill kits, means there has been minimal environmental damage as a result.
"To be clear - and contrary to unhelpful initial media reports - the digger is not sinking. Contractors have surrounded the excavator with an earth bund to contain it while they wait for mechanics to arrive on site.
"We're confident that this minor hiccup will not detract from the longer-term project of restoring the much-loved Brooklands Lake for future generations."
Contractors have been busy in the last few months excavating about two swimming pools worth of silt and debris from the bottom of the lake so far to create new banks and extra islands which will encourage wildlife to return to the area.
Speaking last month, Jacob Dew, operations manager at Five Rivers Environmental Contracting, said: "Works have been quite slow as a combination of high tides and heavy rainfall meant it has been difficult to get the excavators in and the sludge out, particularly between Christmas and the first few weeks of the new year.
“Despite all the water, we are still carrying on valiantly and continuing to get all the improvements done within the next two months.”
According to Mr Dew, the more water there is in the lake, the sloppier the silt - which makes the dredging operations difficult. To overcome the problem, the team trialled an aqua tractor, a piece of equipment that acts like a suction pump, sucking the silt into giant dewatering bags. But sucking up the sludge had not been as easy as planned, especially as seagulls were pecking holes in the bags of silt.
This is the second digger-related mishap in the area in the last 12 months. Last year, a digger involved in the Rampion Wind Farm project became stuck in the sea opposite Brooklands Lake, getting the nickname Moby Dig by readers.
At 4pm, the digger still appeared to be stuck. Click here to read more.