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A section of Exmouth beach remains off limits to swimmers as South West Water is taking bacteriological samples at low tide later today. This is to determine the nature of the pollution at the beauty spot.
East Devon District Council has urged beachgoers to avoid entering the water between Orcombe Point and the lifeboat station due to the situation – which is now under formal investigation.
EDDC confirmed that both EA and South West Water have been investigating the incident, DevonLive reports.
A spokesperson for the Environment Agency told DevonLive: “The Environment Agency is investigating reports of a pollution incident at Exmouth, in the area between Orcombe Point and the lifeboat station. A member of the public alerted the Environment Agency to the incident, reporting black sand and an odour.
“We have liaised with South West Water and they will be taking bacteriological samples at low tide later today. East Devon Council, as owner of the beach, have put up signs advising against bathing and our Swimfo website carries the same message, advising against bathing.
“As soon as we have the results of South West Water’s sampling we will review the advice. With the current hot weather we appreciate people’s desire to cool off in the sea, but we must carry out our investigations fully and satisfy ourselves that there is no risk to bathers.”
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EDDC says that lifeguards have put out red flags on the beach between Orcombe and the lifeboat station to advise against going into the sea in that area until the incident is resolved. Yesterday, a spokesperson for EDDC said: “We are currently working with the Environment Agency which raised a pollution incident after reports of black sand with a foul odour near an abandoned sewer line at the eastern end of the beach. Currently, we are unsure whether this is a result of a sewage pollution, a surface water discharge or a natural occurrence.
“South West Water have been notified and will be attending [18 July] and the Environment Agency may also be attending today. Our lifeguards have put out red flags on the beach between Orcombe and the lifeboat station to advise against going into the sea in that area until the incident is resolved.”
SWW claims they have investigated and found that all assets are operating as expected. A SWW spokesperson said: “We’ve investigated the report of a potential issue and found that all of our assets are operating as expected.”
If anyone is concerned about pollution or any environmental incident they should call EA 24 hour incident hotline 0800 80 70 60.
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