Removing oil from beach would 'accelerate erosion'

Oil on North Beach in Lowestoft. Picture: Danielle Booden

Oil on North Beach in Lowestoft. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

There are no plans to clear historic crude oil which has been exposed on North Denes beach in Lowestoft.

The exposed crude oil on the beach is from the Eleni V tanker spill, which occurred just off the Suffolk coast in 1978.

At the time, the spill was so big that it was impossible to clear up all the oil so some of it was buried at the beach.

But, recent erosion at North Denes beach has resulted in more oil deposits being exposed.

Members of the public, like Mr Blythe expressed concerns yesterday that the historic crude oil may be harmful to local wildlife in the area such as the seal colony.

Oil on North Denes beach in Lowestoft.

Oil on North Denes beach in Lowestoft. - Credit: Danielle Booden

A spokesperson for East Suffolk Council said there were no immediate plans to clear the exposed oil from the beach.

They said: "We are aware of these historic oil deposits, which are the remnants from an oil spill which took place off the coast in 1978. At that time, it was not possible to remove all of the heavier oil and some of the remaining residue was buried.


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"Over the past 40 years, these deposits have dissipated harmlessly, leaving heavier residues mixed with sand which have the appearance of oily peat, similar in appearance to those occurring naturally elsewhere along the coast.

"Some of these outcrops are wet and can cause staining to skin and clothes and we would therefore advise people not to touch them."

Oil on North Beach in Lowestoft. Picture: Danielle Booden

Oil on North Beach in Lowestoft. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

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The spokesperson added that removing the deposits from the beach would only accelerate the erosion that is already taking place on the section of the beach.

They added: "At the moment, the deposits are dispersing slowly, naturally and without issue. Removing this material entirely would be a huge undertaking which would not only disturb the deposits and increase the amount of oily residue dispersed into the environment, but would also accelerate erosion of the beach.

"Work is underway to establish what can be done in the long term if the current erosion of the dunes continues or accelerates.

"Signs are in place to warn beach users of the likely presence of oily residues and we are monitoring the area carefully."

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