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Warning Issued for Poole Harbour Shellfish Harvesting following Oil Leak

Shellfish harvesting in Poole Harbour is currently prohibited due to health concerns stemming from an oil leak last week, as advised by the local authority. However, swimming and fishing activities can now resume, according to the Poole Harbour Commissioners (PHC).

Since the leak on March 26, PHC has successfully removed 160,000 litres of oily water and six tons of contaminated beach and soil material from the area. The incident occurred when approximately 200 barrels of reservoir fluid, consisting of 85% water and 15% oil, were accidentally released into Ower Bay from a pipeline operated by Perenco, a gas company. A comprehensive containment and clean-up operation was swiftly initiated to safeguard the vulnerable natural habitats in the vicinity.

The PHC stated, “Following significant progress in the clean-up operations, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has revised its previous advice, confirming that the public can once again enjoy the beaches and water in the Poole Harbour area for recreational activities. This includes swimming, bathing, and water sports. Pets can safely walk near the water in the Poole Harbour area. However, we kindly request the public to avoid Ower Bay.”

The PHC further added, “Fishing and netting for fish in Poole Harbour may now resume. Anglers should steer clear of visibly contaminated areas affected by the oil spill. Any fish discovered dead, dying, or visibly contaminated with oil residues must not be consumed or sold.”

Regarding shellfish, the PHC cautioned, “Shellfish harvested from Poole Harbour starting from Sunday, March 26, should not be distributed or sold. BCP Council and the Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (SIFCA) have conducted shellfish sampling from the aquaculture grounds in Poole Harbour. The test results, along with further assessment by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), will determine the status of shellfish in the area.”

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