Beaches reopen, advisories issued



The city of Ocean Springs temporarily closed Front Beach and East Beach to the public Monday because oil had begun to come onshore on Sunday.

The beaches were opened about an hour or so later when city officials learned from the state Department of Environmental Quality that the orange mousse that washed up was not oil.

“The city has been very proactive to protect its citizens,” said Johnnie Bernhard, the city’s public relations administrative officer.

The walking path along Front Beach remained open for public use, but city officials wanted to restrain people from venturing onto the sand or into the water.

Also Monday, the MDEQ, along with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and the Mississippi State Department of Health, issued beach advisories for two locations in Harrison and Jackson counties.

In Harrison County, the advisory is for the stretch of beach between Veterans Avenue and Miramar Avenue. In Jackson County, the advisory extends from Seashore Avenue to Main Street in the Belle Fontaine area.

The beaches are not closed but officials advise people to be aware of their surroundings while out on the beach because significant amounts of oily material were seen in the areas on Sunday.

“If there would be enough material to close the beaches, then we would,” said Robbie Wilbur, MDEQ communications director.

However, there are no specific guidelines set in place for how much material will qualify for a beach closing.

Wilbur said the agencies are advising people they can use the beach if they want, but are also advising them to use caution.

MDEQ recommends that beachgoers avoid contact with oilly materials and stay out the water if the materials are visible.

MDEQ also issued a beach advisory on Friday in Harrison County between 20th Avenue and Thornton Avenue because the water had high bacteria levels unrelated to the oil spill.

The beach advisories are in effect until further notice.

“We have people out all the time,” Wilbur said. “If we can lift this advisory or have to issue more we certainly will.”

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