Marseille is banning beaches from swimming for fear of pollution

Marseille is banning beaches from swimming for fear of pollution There is no water on the beaches of Marseille. Photo: AFP

France's second city and main tourist center, Marseille, has imposed temporary swimming bans on several beaches due to pollution problems, disappointing locals and tourists who hope to drown as temperatures rise.

Since the beginning of the month, seven of the city's 21 beaches have raised a purple flag - meaning they are not bathing - on days when high levels of faeces were detected by hygiene inspections.

Marseille is a tourist destination that attracts five million visitors a year due to its Mediterranean coastline and sun-kissed climate.

But the city, France's largest port, is struggling with pollution from industry and shipping.

"This is mostly due to sewer problems, but there are also more and more boats that dump their gray and black waste before entering the gray and black harbors," said Sarah Hatimi, head of the Surfrider Foundation's environmental group's water quality program.

Swimming bans are nothing new in Marseille. Last year, the authorities enforced & nbsp; 153 bans, for fear of heavy rainfall pollution.

"This year it can't be said to be due to rain," said the local public health officer & nbsp; Council Commissioner Monique Daubet, adding that the problem is leakage & nbsp; pools and "a lot of animal excrement".

But he said the city was "proactive", going even further than the weekly water inspections imposed by European law to "pay to protect swimmers from our own analyzes".

Every morning, inspectors take water samples from every beach in the city to test for E. coli and enterococcal bacteria that show feces in humans or animals.

The lab may reveal the test results the same morning, while previous weekly tests arrived "too late, two or three days later," Daubet said.

Despite their efforts, the Marseilles authorities are not hopeful that they will receive a "blue flag" stamp to certify coastal hygiene.

"Our water quality does not meet criteria such as keeping bins at least 100 meters from the beach."
"No one is forcing us to do that," she said. "Instead of complaining, people should be grateful we're closing the beaches!"
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