VIDEO: Bathers caught out by oil slick at Sidmouth

PUBLISHED: 18:23 31 July 2008 | UPDATED: 10:56 17 June 2010

OIL, washed ashore at Sidmouth on Monday afternoon, did not come from the remains of MSC Napoli. Evidence coming in from various sources after the incident, which caught out bathers such as 11-year-old friends Jemma Sparks and Daisy Pearce, suggests the oil may have been in the water near Ladram Bay.

OIL, washed ashore at Sidmouth on Monday afternoon, did not come from the remains of MSC Napoli.

Evidence coming in from various sources after the incident, which caught out bathers such as 11-year-old friends Jemma Sparks and Daisy Pearce, suggests the oil may have been in the water near Ladram Bay.

Experts believe the tide and wind direction on Monday were such that if any oil had leaked from the Napoli, beached nearby 18 months ago, it would have washed ashore at Branscombe, not Sidmouth.

East Devon District Council issued a statement after patches of floating oil affected the coastline opposite the Fort Field cricket ground, with small amounts of oil being reported at Jacob's Ladder.

Two StreetScene staff were sent to put up warning notices along the seafront and several agencies involved in the ongoing Napoli operation were soon on site to check if the spillage was linked to the container ship and help with the clean-up.

Seven coastguard staff were on the beach advising people to stay out of the water and to beware of oil, as well as pointing out steps they could take if they were affected," said a council spokesman.

Fred Caygill, spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said it had sent a helicopter to over-fly the area, which reported there were no oil patches around the Napoli.

We wanted to determine it was not coming from the Napoli," he said.

Napoli clean-up contractors DRS went from Branscombe compound to spray dispersant on patches of oil, said EDDC.

Two small craft were deployed close to shore and crews mopped up some floating oil.

Samples have been taken and these will be analysed to help identify the source of the problem and to ascertain whether it was commercial oil or perhaps some form of algae," said EDDC's spokesman.

Devon County Council and the Environment Agency were told of the incident.

By Tuesday morning much of the oil had been dispersed by the wind, rain and waves.

There are old wartime wrecks around our coast. No-one said stop the war while we take the oil off. It takes a long time to degrade, maybe it is old oil that got stirred up.

There could be all sorts of reasons why it suddenly appears on the beach," said Mr Caygill.

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