Holidaymakers at one of Britain’s most popular beach hotspots have been warned to avoid the water after a major sewage leak.
The situation unfolded off the coast of Blackpool after a pipe that burst more than a week ago resulted in human waste being deposited in the sea.
The Environment Agency has declared e.coli, a bacteria which can induce illness, was detected in the water which is advised to be off limits to beachgoers.
Blackpool Council leader Lynn Williams called the situation “appalling” as the town prepares for the height of its tourist season.
“We’re just at the start of our summer season with some glorious weather and we’re faced with having to put out advisory notices telling people not to go into the sea because of the discharges of sewage,” she told BBC Radio.
However, a spokesman for water company United Utilities, which runs the site, blamed the situation on heavy downpours last week and said the clean up was “95 per cent complete”.
“The number of people, number of experts and equipment involved are something that’s never been seen before,” he said.
It’s believed 100 tankers are working to remove sewage from the impacted area each day.
The Environment Agency confirmed swimmers are advised to avoid the beach’s water until the situation is fully under control.
“We are continuing to regularly monitor water quality along the coast to help inform decisions about when the current advice against swimming can be removed,” a statement read.
“Polluting our seas and rivers is unacceptable and we are carrying out a detailed investigation into this incident along the Fylde Coast.”
Thousands of beachgoers are expected to flock to the area over the weekend as temperatures climb into the mid 20s.