Beach pollution six times EU limit

One of the seven Cork beaches closed due to pollution had more than six times the EU permissible limit for the potentially fatal bacteria E.coli.

It emerged yesterday that a test reading taken at Oysterhaven, near Kinsale, last week showed an E.coli presence of 12,033 particles per 100ml of water. The maximum safe limit is 2,000 per 100ml.

That’s significantly more than Youghal Front Strand, which had a reading of 7,701.

Cork County Council said it expects further test results to be known this morning. However, it’s unlikely that all seven beaches will get the all-clear.

Further tests were also carried out yesterday at Youghal’s two other beaches in Redbarn and Claycastle, as well as Garryvoe, Garretstown, Oysterhaven, and Coolmaine, near Kilbrittain. The results of those will be known tomorrow.

Children, meanwhile, were enjoying water sports in Oysterhaven yesterday.

A spokeswoman for the Oysterhaven Centre — which specialises in marine pursuits — said programmes had been adapted to ensure children, in particular, “were in boats on the water and not in the water”.

She said all swimming activities had been cancelled in line with advice from the local authority. That would continue until water quality, locally, had improved.

Children were told to shower off after leaving the water and all wetsuits were washed down.

The centre confirmed it had “some cancellations” as a result of the E.coli fears. “It hasn’t been one of our better summers because of the weather,” she said.

Cllr Alan Coleman, who lives near Oysterhaven, said he was extremely concerned with the very high E.coli reading there. Unlike the Youghal area. he said, no significant human effluent was pumped directly into Oysterhaven bay. “It’s surrounded by a tiny, dispersed, population. There is no major slurry run-off from the land there, which is often blamed for E.coli contamination. Most of the land around Oysterhaven is in tillage,” Mr Coleman said.

He said while the local authority had the responsibility for regularly testing bathing water, it also had the responsibility to find out why such high levels had been discovered in Oysterhaven. “This is baffling and we need to get to the bottom of it,” he said.

The result of the tests taken late last week on all seven beaches were scheduled to have been made public yesterday. However, Cork County Council said a malfunctioning incubator at its laboratory at Inniscarra had caused a delay in the procedure.

A spokesman for the local authority said he expected the test results to be available today.

A second batch of samples was taken at all the beaches yesterday and the result will be known tomorrow.

Youghal appeared to be one of the worst affected centres with murky-brown effluent still lingering on its Front Strand in particular, which had E.coli levels nearly four times the permitted EU limit. The water discolouration there is in stark contrast to the azure waters across the bay in Ardmore, Co Waterford.

Families holidaying in the East Cork town have been advised to cross into West Waterford where the EPA says the bathing water is satisfactory.

Read more:

It’s high time for Ireland to finally clean up its act


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