Poole Harbour waters safe to use after oil spill, say bosses

PEOPLE are being advised they can swim in waters around Poole Harbour – more than a week after an oil leak.

A leak from a pipeline operated by Perenco at Owers Bay on Sunday, March 26, saw around 200 barrels of an oil and water mix enter the water.

People were advised to avoid using beaches in the area and not to bathe in the waters.

However, the Poole Harbour Commissioners (PHC) now say it is safe.

“As a result of the progress of the clean-up operations, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has revised previous advice and indicated that people are able to once again use the beaches and water in the Poole Harbour area for recreational use,” they said.

“This includes swimming, bathing and watersports. Pets are now safe to walk near the water in the Poole Harbour area. The public are however requested to stay clear from Owers Bay.”

The relaxation of the ban came into force at midnight on Tuesday night.

PHC said it will continue the clean-up and urged anyone who sees oil on the water to report it to Harbour Control on 01202 440 230 or via

Meanwhile, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council is in the process of removing the signage at harbour beach areas and slipways that previously advised visitors not to swim in those areas.

In the Dorset Council area, signage is being removed from the Studland beaches, Knowle Beach, South Beach, Ferry Road and Shell Bay that previously advised visitors not to swim in those areas until further notice.

Fishing and/or netting for fish in Poole Harbour can also resume.

“Those fishing should avoid any areas of the Harbour which are evidently contaminated with oil (spill site),” the PHC added.

“Any fish found to be dead, dying or visibly contaminated with oil residues should not be consumed or marketed.

“Shellfish harvested from Poole Harbour from Sunday, March 26 onwards should not be relayed or marketed. This advice regarding shellfish remains unchanged, due to the difference in metabolism between fish and shellfish.

“BCP Council and Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (SIFCA) have carried out sampling of shellfish from the aquaculture grounds in Poole Harbour and are awaiting the results of this testing, and further assessment by the FSA, to inform the position regarding shellfish.”

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