August 18, 2008

Pollution Alert Keeps Stretch of Beach Shut

TESTS were still being carried out on sea drains yesterday in a bid to trace the source of pollution which has led to the closure of a stretch of Northumberland coastline.

Cambois Beach near Bedlington was closed to the public on Thursday after a walker discovered globules of an oily substance on the sands at the high-tide mark. Wansbeck Council took the decision as a precautionary measure after alerting the Environment Agency to the incident.

Warning signs have been put up, public access points closed and coastal warden patrols put in place along a 300 to 400-metre stretch of beach between Cambois and North Blyth while an investigation is carried out.

Samples of the pollution were taken away for laboratory analysis on Thursday, and Agency staff were out again yesterday to obtain more samples and carry out tests. Agency spokeswoman Julie Hemmings said: "We will be running coloured dye down drains which should flush out to sea and give us an idea where this stuff originated from. People will notice the dye but it is completely harmless to the environment.

"We don't think the substance is hazardous but we don't yet know what it is, or whether it has come from land or sea. It could be a couple of weeks before the lab tests come back."

The Agency and council have both stressed there is no evidence of any risk to public health but the council has said the beach will not re-open to the public until the agency has confirmed it is safe.

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