Shellfish should not be harvested from Poole Harbour over health concerns following last week’s oil leak, but swimming and fishing can resume, the local authority has said.
Poole Harbour Commissioners (PHC) said that 160,000 litres of oily water and six tons of contaminated beach and soil material have been removed since the leak on March 26.
About 200 barrels of reservoir fluid made up of 85% water and 15% oil were released into Ower Bay from the pipeline operated by gas company Perenco, prompting a major containment and clean-up operation to protect the sensitive natural habitats in the area.
About 30 oiled birds have been spotted although there had not been any “serious bird casualties”, the PHC has said.
It said: “As a result of the progress of the clean-up operations, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has revised previous advice and indicated that people are able to once again use the beaches and water in the Poole Harbour area for recreational use.
“This includes swimming, bathing and watersports. Pets are now safe to walk near the water in the Poole Harbour area. The public are however requested to stay clear from Ower Bay.”
The PHC added: “Fishing and/or netting for fish in Poole Harbour can resume.
“Those fishing should avoid any areas of the harbour which are evidently contaminated with oil (spill site).
“Any fish found to be dead, dying or visibly contaminated with oil residues should not be consumed or marketed.
“Shellfish harvested from Poole Harbour from Sunday 26 March onwards should not be relayed or marketed.
“This advice regarding shellfish remains unchanged, due to the difference in metabolism between fish and shellfish.
“BCP (Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole) Council and Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (SIFCA) have carried out sampling of shellfish from the aquaculture grounds in Poole Harbour and are awaiting the results of this testing, and further assessment by the FSA, to inform the position regarding shellfish.”