Illegal oil discharge pollutes 12 miles of Welsh beaches

An illegal oil discharge has polluted 12 miles of beaches on the island of Anglesey, at the height of the tourist season. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and its counter-pollution and salvage officer have been working with the Environment Agency and other bodies since the weekend to clear up after the incident.

The yellow-white oil has been identified as probably high temperature lubricating oil or lubricating grease, possibly from a cargo ship, but since the strait is a very busy shipping area it may prove impossible to identify which one.

A patrol vessel reported the pollution to Holyhead Coastguard on Saturday morning. At that stage, the slick was three to four miles offshore, between Wylfa Head and Point Lynas, but has now affected the coast from Carmel Point to Point Lynas, with the most significant impact on the popular Cemaes beach, though help was drafted in from other parts of the island to clear it at the weekend.

Coastguard teams confirmed that the oil had impacted quite heavily on a number of bathing beaches. Local authorities and the Environment Agency were informed and they have been monitoring the situation.

The clean-up began on Sunday, with a representative from Anglesey County Council and Cemaes coastguard rescue team visiting the scene to inspect the area as the operation began. An environment group, liaising with the MCA, the Countryside Council for Wales and the fisheries department, has been established to monitor the clean up and make sure that the process did not cause more damage than the spill itself. The MCA Counter Pollution Branch is also providing technical advice to the local authority and supporting the environment group’s efforts. Anglesey County Council told edie that it is anticipated the clean-up will be finished before the weekend.

Anglesey County Council chairman John Williams said the pollution was the last thing Anglesey could have wished for during the first week of the school holidays. “But things could have been very much worse,” he said. “The affected tourist beaches have already been cleaned and I feel sure that our all-important tourist industry will not be adversely affected by what has happened.”

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