Several beaches along Garden Route reopened following small-scale oil spill

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Several beaches along the Garden Route coastline have been reopened following a small-scale oil spill earlier this week. The oil droplets were found mostly on beaches in Mossel Bay. Traces of the pollution have now been found in neighbouring municipal beaches between Plettenberg Bay and Gouritzmond.

The Garden Route District Municipality has assured locals and visitors alike that the beaches will be cleaned and reopened as soon as possible. The source of the oil spill is yet to be identified, with Mossel Bay and district municipality at the helm of the clean-up operation. Cleaning crews have already started removing the pollutant from beaches. Some beaches have reopened, while others are set to follow soon.

“At this stage I can announce the point, Santos, De Bakke, Hartenbos and Glentana beaches are opened again. There’s also some oil clean up stations at these different beaches where if there still a bit of contamination that some of the holidaymakers might find on their skin where they can go clean it up. But at this stage the message is positive that it’s looking clear,” says Mossel Bay Mayor Dirk Kotzè.

One of the key objectives is to prevent harm to the environment and marine life. Disaster officials are working around the clock to clean the beaches.

“Beaches are being classified according to specific colour codes to show the severity of the contamination,” says Disaster Management Head Gerhard Otto.

Meanwhile, the George Municipality ceremoniously hoisted a blue flag at Wilderness to signify the start of the holiday season. However, the oil spillage first has to be completely cleared, before the flags can be permanently raised again.

“We’ve done the ceremonial raising of the blue flags because it’s starting our season. At the same time, there’s been an oil spillage from an oil line in Mossel Bay which is affecting the coast along the Garden Route and no doubt that will be sorted out in the next few days then we’ll be able to have the blue flags up permanently,” says George Mayor Leon van Wyk.

The blue flag status is an important symbol, especially for international visitors who choose to frequent beaches which have been recognised for being safe and clean.