OIL SPILL LATEST: Sea now safe to paddle and bathe in as clean up operation nears the end

Beach cleaners have worked hard to clean up the oil spill
Beach cleaners have worked hard to clean up the oil spill

The bathing water between Blackpool and Fleetwood is now safe to paddle and play in.

The Environment Agency's advice to stay out the water because of the ongoing oil spill was finally lifted nine days after the thick tar-like substance began to wash up at Bispham on Sunday, and across the Fylde coast 24 hours later.

However, bathing is not advised today because of a forecast for heavy rain.

Some 19 tonnes of waste, made up of oil, sand, and stone, have been removed by scores of workers and oil spill specialists since.

Experts have cleared the sand at Blackpool and Bispham, while the majority of oil has been removed from Cleveleys, Fleetwood, and Knott End, a spokesman for Blackpool Council said.

The Fleetwood to Knott End ferry service resumed yesterday, after being suspended due to a dangerous slipway, though the shellfish beds at Knott Spit and Sea Centre South in Knott End remained closed, Wyre Council added.

Oil giant Eni has accepted responsibility for the spill, which it said happened at an off-shore storage tanker in Liverpool Bay earlier this month.

A spokesman said authorities were informed immediately after between two and 20 tonnes was leaked, while workers from the firm have been staying in the resort to help with the clean up.

A specialist group was also set up to monitor any impact on wild and marine life, but none has been reported.