Beachgoers are being urged to stay out of the water in Melbourne after vegetable oil polluted two major beaches.
The Environmental Protection Authority Victoria said they were investigating the spillage at St Kilda Beach and Elwood Beach in relation to reports of dead fish in the area over the weekend, but had yet to make any connection.
Swimmers and paddleboarders reportedly emerged from the water covered in the oily substance.
Experts from the EPA warned locals it was not suitable for swimming.
The EPA said they had received reports of dead fish and affected birds in the area but had not yet established a connection to the oil spill, and advised members of the public to avoid contact with the “oily material.”
By Saturday afternoon they said South Melbourne, Port Melbourne and Sandridge beaches were ‘fair’, meaning the may not be suitable for swimming, while people were advised against swimming at Elwood and St Kilda.
On Monday morning South Melbourne, Port Melbourne, Elwood and St Kilda were all rated ‘fair.’
“The spill has been identified as vegetable oil which presents no hazard to human health but is still unpleasant for beachgoers and can harm some wildlife,” the EPA said on Saturday afternoon.
“EPA is investigating the source.”
On December 29, the EPA urged Victorians to be wary about water quality at beaches after floodwaters carried higher than usual levels of pollutants into the state’s waterways.
“Contamination levels have improved, but the situation is highly variable,” they said.
“Floodwaters are subsiding, but they have carried higher levels of pollution into our waterways and onto beaches,” the EPA said.
They said to avoid swimming, kayaking and boating, and other marine activities, if there were signs of pollution such as odours and discoloration.
E.coli, trace metals, volatile organic compounds, pesticides, and other substances were “generally below” levels of concern, the EPA said.