Oil spill beaches due to re-open this weekend

  21 March 2019

Published: Thursday 21 Mar 2019 by Fife Council

Beaches closed due to an oil spill near Limekilns will be re-opened to the public by this weekend.

A massive clean-up operation led by Fife Council has been on the go since the oil was discovered on the Fife coastline last month.

The area was closed off to the public and the coastal path route was diverted while the oil was cleaned up and investigations into where it came from got underway.

Around 600 tonnes of contaminated seaweed and sand has since been lifted from the three beaches affected and transported to a specialist facility for disposal.

And despite investigations by SEPA, Marine Coastguard Agency (MCA) and Forth Ports the source of the slick has not been found.

Senior Manager with the council's Roads and Transportation Service Derek Crowe commented:

"This has been a massive partnership operation with many organisations working together to get this area cleared up and back in public use.

"It's great news that we can re-open the beaches as I know people have been missing the opportunity to use this much loved resource. I'd like to thank everyone for their patience while the work was underway . Although residents may still occasionally see a sheen on the water , this will disperse naturally."

The clean up operation is estimated to cost around £600,000 in total - a cost that will have to be borne by the council if the polluter cannot be identified.

Ian Buchanan, SEPA Chief Officer commented:

“An extensive investigation carried out by regulatory, chemistry and marine science staff at the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has ruled out all identified land-based sources for the pollution found on Limekilns and Charleston beaches.

“SEPA analysed samples of the contamination and compared the results to samples taken from potential sources. No matches were found, and as result SEPA’s investigation is closed, unless further information comes to our attention in the future.

“Early suggestions that the oil had come from a land drain appear to have been based on an early visual assessment and no evidence has been found that substantiates this.”

The beaches will continue to be monitored as the area returns to its natural habitat.