A beach and harbour in Fife have been closed off as a precaution following a suspected oil spill. This was after residents reported a strong smell of oil, and pockets of pollution were seen on the shoreline near the Limekilns / Charlestown area .

An operation is now underway to remove polluted parts of Limekilns beach and the area adjacent to the harbour.

On commenting on the incident, Lisa McCann, Service Manager – Environmental Health at Fife Council said: “Environmental Health are members of the Incident Management Team which involves all relevant Fife Council Services and partner agencies. Officers from Environmental Health took immediate steps following notification of the incident to protect public health, and continue to support the work of the Incident Management Team.

The clean-up plan of action is being implemented, with the most contaminated areas being remedied first. A specialist firm is in the process of removing and disposing of approximately 500 tonnes of contaminated material from the area. We are working closely with all partners, including SEPA, which is undertaking sample testing.”

Another spokeswoman for Fife Council said: “Progress is being made to clear contaminated seaweed and clean up the coastline around Limekilns and Charlestown following an oil based spill in the area.

“Samples are currently being tested by Sepa and investigations into the source of the pollution are ongoing.

“The affected areas remain closed to the public. ”

Environmental Health Officers and SEPA have been at the beaches trying to trace the source of the spill. SEPA said early indications pointed to an isolated incident which is not ongoing.

Environmental Health have erected warning signs at the beach area stating the area has been contaminated by an unknown pollutant and to avoid contact with the beach, not to take anything home from the beach, to consumer any fish/shellfish from the shore and also to wash hands and foot wear.

Forth Ports, which owns the nearby port of Rosyth, said the spill appears to be a light refined diesel. The firm also said its investigations on the scene suggest the spill came from a drain on the land. The suspected oil spill has been seen in the Firth of Forth and on the beaches.

A spokesman for Forth Ports said: “We are currently investigating a reported small oil spill on the beach at Limekilns. It appears to be a light refined diesel.

“On receiving the initial report, Forth Ports immediately sent a pollution response vessel to the area to investigate and nothing was found on the water.

“Subsequent investigations from our on scene response suggest spill has come from a drain on the land. We are working with SEPA and Fife Council on this.”

Dunfermline and West Fife SNP MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “This incident is very concerning. Urgent action is needed to ensure that lasting damage isn’t caused to local wildlife and the surrounding environment.

“I’ve contacted SEPA, in order to find out more about the source of this pollution, and the steps that are being taken to address the matter.”

“This will be especially disappointing to the Charlestown, Limekilns and Pattiesmuir nature conservation group, who have been working incredibly hard to clean up local beaches in recent months.”