Preparatory work to remove potentially hazardous materials from Prestwick Beach is now underway by a specialist professional contractor after the beach was temporarily closed to the public by South Ayrshire Council on Friday 29 July.
The Council closed the beach as a precautionary measure after expert laboratory analysis identified asbestos fibres on small pieces of material picked up during an inspection prompted by the discovery of similar material by a member of the public.
On-site works to remove and analyse any additional hazardous material and to investigate the source of the contamination will get underway tomorrow (2 August).
The Council is working closely with relevant partners – including the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), NHS Ayrshire & Arran and expert scientific advisors – to deal with the problem and consider all possible implications.
The Council is also in contact with Prestwick St Nicholas Golf Club, which owns and is responsible for the sections of the beach adjacent to the golf course.
Mike Newall, South Ayrshire Council's Head of Neighbourhood Services, said: "Our contractor will begin the sweep of the beach tomorrow morning to identify and remove any materials potentially of concern.
"While that work is ongoing – and until we are more informed about the potential impact of the materials found – the beach closure will remain in place and we will continue to monitor and review this on an ongoing basis.
"We are actively investigating the source of this material in conjunction with our specialist contractor.
"While investigations are in progress and until a full scientific risk assessment can be carried out, the beach has been closed as a precaution. We ask locals and visitors alike to follow the warning signs and stay off the beach for the time being."
Dr Elvira Garcia, Consultant in Public Health Medicine for NHS Ayrshire & Arran, added: "Until we know more about the material on Prestwick Beach, and any potential impact on public health, the precautionary beach closure will minimise the likelihood of exposure."
Precautionary checks for hazardous materials have been carried out at Ayr, Barassie, Newton and Troon beaches, with each beach given the all-clear.
As a result of the beach closure, a temporary diversion is in place along the Ayrshire Coastal Path.
Details of the alternative routes can be viewed - Route1: Route2.