Photos: ‘Greaseballs’ Wash Up At Grape Bay

April 15, 2014

[Updating] Grape Bay Beach is not looking — or smelling — its most attractive today [Apr 15] with small greyish lumps scattered over the Paget beach.

They did not have the most pleasant smell, and while we were on the beach an area resident came up to us and said it was “disgusting” to have to deal with.

The conditions at Grape Bay follow the “Security Message” entitled “Contaminated Beaches” citing the “ongoing dumping of raw sewage off Bermuda’s south coast,” issued by the U.S. Consulate on March 31st.

The advisory from the U.S. Consulate added that “In 2013, as many as five of the beaches were described as ‘unfit for recreational use’ on different occasions based on water samples.”

Following the advisory, the Ministry of Health & Environment said they wish to “strongly reassure residents and visitors that our beaches are safe for swimming and recreational use,” and also said they carry out extensive water sampling twice weekly.

Speaking earlier this month, Health & Environment Minister Trevor Moniz said, “We also will alert the public if ‘greaseballs’ appear on the beach.

“Greaseballs manifest as small [marble sized] balls of grey grease mixed with sand deposited at the high tide mark on Paget beaches. However I must stress that the presence of greaseballs does not necessarily mean the water is contaminated.

“The Department of Health will have greaseballs safely removed from the shoreline as soon as they are reported. If members of the public spot greaseballs we ask that they contact Environmental Health at: 278-5333. The Government cannot work in isolation. We also need the public’s assistance.”

We have asked the Ministry of Health & Environment for comment and will update as able.

Update 3.09pm: The Government will hold a press conference later today where they are expected to address this issue, we will update as able.

Update 4.06pm: The press conference is underway. Those present include Minister of Health & Environment Trevor Moniz, Minister of Public Works Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO Bill Hanbury, Minister Wayne Scott and Mayor of Hamilton Graeme Outerbridge.

Minister Moniz is speaking, he called them “greaseballs”, and said they started washing ashore yesterday.

Update 4.13pm: Mr Hanbury was asked would be go swimming on Grape Bay right now, and he said yes, he would. Minister Moniz said the water samples are clear, and the “greaseballs” are another issue.

Update 4.19pm: The press conference just ended. We will have the statements and video up shortly.

Update 5.37pm: The full video/statement from the press conference is posted here.

greaseballs on Bermuda beach Apr 2014 (1)

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Category: All, Environment, Environment, News, Photos

Comments (82)

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  1. OKAYMAN says:

    So where are the warnings? When was the water at Grape Bay last analysed and what was the result?

    Is it safe to swim?

    • Redo says:

      “Is it safe to swim?” Gee, i dunno…do you take a bath after someone sh*ts in your bathtub? Do you like floating around in a public toilet?

      • bdalvr says:

        LOLOLOLOL! Great comment, I needed a good laugh!!

    • inna says:

      Take a look at Manhattan Harbour, and compare to the waters of grape bay beach, and let me know what you think!

      • flikel says:

        Yes, but we don’t go swimming in the Manhattan we? Nor does NY promote Manhattan Harbour as fit for swimming.

    • Thomas Mahoney says:

      We don’t even know what they are. It could be ambergris. Just because it washed up on south shore doesn’t mean it is sewage.

      • Thomas Mahoney says:

        A good way to tell is to see if they float… Has this been done??

        • Sickofantz says:

          Of course its not Ambergris! Ambergris is hard and waxy (My sister once found a large lump, the large lump is now her new car!) These are very squishy and on examination contain hair and urrgh. (I can’t go on).

          By the way a good test for Ambergris is the Hot Needle test, why don’t you look it up and go and do it.

      • Sickofantz says:

        While I find your naiivete rather quaint. The fact is we do know what they are and where they come from! If you really think they could be valuable ambergris I suggest that you come down to Grape Bay and collect a few of the offending lumps. Just smudge a few up in your hands and sniff your fingers. Those lumps of sewage on the beach are unlikely to be perfume ingredients any time soon. But if you scrape it on your wrist you may become more attractive too dogs.

        • Thomas Mahoney says:

          Ambergris has a fecal odor when it is fresh. We have also had a lot of whale activity around the island. Have a nice day.

        • Build a Better Bermuda says:

          Greaseballs are not necessarily sewage either, in fact greaseballs are what they they say they are, grease, mostly from restaurant kitchen run off. There is the possibility that they pick up traces of sewage as they make their way through the outflow, but since sewage will breakdown, while the grease clumps, it is just that, traces. If it contained too much sewage, the grease wouldn’t clump into anything like the modules we find on the beaches.

          Either way both these issues of run off do need to be addressed, if fact they are long overdue to be. The fact that they are long overdue to be also means that this issue has been present for decades, with no recorded illnesses, infection or diseases that can be attributed to it. I am sure the alarmists out there would have us believe that all of a sudden Bermuda waters will kill us, but the fact of the matter is that the bull sharks and great whites that inhabits the waters along the US east coast’s swim areas are responsible for more deaths than water contamination on our shores, by a factor of… well however many deaths they have caused.

          Also, where do you think fish cr@p.

          • Eye of Horus says:

            Grease is insoluble & when it forms around fecal & other sewage waste it creates a coating that will preserve some infectious bacteria for years. The only reason there seems to be traces is because the testing is done in a mass body of water. If you compare the bit of testing statistics release it clear that the inlets have the highest concentrations of bacteria found. Uninfected fish feces are harmless even edible but if the fish is infected by viruses & bacteria passed on by human fecal matter it can be passed up & down the food chain & around back to humans. We can’t be certain that no one has become infected because the illnesses could have been misdiagnosed but since the treatment was the same the real cause was never recognized. The number of people who die from infectious diseases & bacterial infection is many times greater than those from shark attacks.

            • Build a Better Bermuda says:

              My statement was how many in Bermuda have even been able to report getting sick swimming in our waters. The simply fact is we have been swimming in this for decades. As unpleasant as the thought is about these greaseballs in our waters, they are not new, people have been reporting them for decades. Just don’t touch them, common sense, you see them, don’t go swimming, I wouldn’t, but their presence does not mean the water is going to kill you.
              A solution for this is long over due and needed, but I can see that we won’t see a full plan for at least a few months yet. Best we can hope for is an intermediary action strategy, but even still that will take at minimum a week to develop, and a while longer for personnel to be appropriately briefed and readied on it protocols. The fact that Parks was auctioned to clean them up when they were reported, means they are getting there. Hell for the first time in decades we have a party that is acknowledging the issue, course they are trying to down play it, but that is currently better than any past administration that just tried to wash it out to sea.
              We can scream in fear and panic and blame every time we see a marble sized grease module, with traces of sewage trapped in it, that may make you sick or kill you if you are dumb enough to eat it, but what will that achieve.
              Welcome to life, don’t panic, you’re not going to get out alive.

      • Family Man says:

        It’s your lucky day. You can go to Grape Bay, and the other beaches along the coast there, and collect all the “ambergris” you want. If you can sell it, you’ll be rich!

    • Scadaffi says:

      Are these grease balls Bermuda made or are they from passing ships quietly dropping off their rubbish as they pass by our pristine waters.
      This has happened for years.

  2. Sickofantz says:

    In comparison to the seaweed in this photo these hideous looking lumps of effluent look bigger than marbles!

  3. flikel says:

    Yuk….hope nobody is swimming with their mouth open

  4. Fruity says:

    That’s pretty disturbing. At first look, I was like wow.. rocks… what the devil can be so appealing; after reading, I’m very curious!! Is it really rocks or weird creature’s eggs?!

    Hahaha, the end is near or for humans. Dun, dun, duunnnnnnn!

    • Sickofantz says:

      They are very wet soggy ‘rocks’ which don’t bare too close an inspection. The weird creatures who ‘laid’ these ‘eggs’ are not that different than you or me.

  5. Always Watching says:

    Thank god I have a pool.

    • Second says:

      Bit selfish aren’t we.? We never know what can happen tomorrow. A bacterial infection might hit pools next.? Be part of the solution.

    • Jackal says:

      Phew, me too. Shoulda worked hard at school, and you could have a big , clean pool in your yard like me and Always Watching. Them PLP fools ain’t gonna bring ya nothin.

  6. nuffin but the truth says:

    We ALL know exactly what these evil looking LUMPS are!

    the Fact is..this guy is LYING:-

    “Health & Environment Minister Trevor Moniz said, “We also will alert the public if ‘greaseballs’ appear on the beach. Greaseballs manifest as small [marble sized] balls of grey grease mixed with sand deposited at the high tide mark on Paget beaches. However I must stress that the presence of greaseballs does not necessarily mean the water is contaminated”

    BERNEWS Alerted the Public and the water IS Contaminated.
    so do your job or RESIGN and let someone else do the job.

  7. Terry says:

    Nothing more than sperm whale secretion.
    Miniture ambergriss…………………….

    • Sickofantz says:

      These balls of effluent have been appearing on the South Shore Beachs for the last 10 years. They always appear when we have a strongish Easterly Wind. Their is a saying that goes if it looks like S&IT Smells like @#%T it probably is SH&?. Just think if it really were Ambergris coming ashore that regularly and in such large quantities (the photographs don’t do it justice) it would be a marvelous third string to Bermuda’s economy and all our worries would be over!

  8. Second says:

    “Greaseballs”! Be for real.!! Face the issue honestly and clean it up. Too much of this talking out of both sides of the mouth. This is not something new. Visit our Somerset beaches as well!

  9. Truth is killin' me... says:

    Government…PLP,OBA whomever…ADDRESS THIS NOW!! This is not a political hot potato…it is an environmental issue that could affect your tourist dollars if it hasn’t aleady!!!

  10. Family Man says:

    No worries, by tomorrow the water will be fine.

    The beach will still be contaminated, but the water will be fine.

    Remember under the government standards the water has to be tested and found to contain bacteria above safe limits for TWO days in a row, then on the third day they will plant a little flag on the beach to warn bathers not to swim there. Apparently stepping in sh$t is OK.

  11. Ben Dover says:

    This is a really sh**ty situation. The Government must act now.

    • Heavens says:

      I thought this was a Corp of Hamilton problem? of course, those lot need to be tossed out.

  12. Harold Godwinson says:

    How about the idiotic dog owners that continually pollute this beach with their dog poop, particulalry those trespassing on the beach. For Children playing in the sand this is more of an issue from a health and safety perspective than greaseballs.

    • Sickofantz says:

      But most people on Grape Bay pick up after their pooches. In fact I was once on Grape Bay about 8 years ago when a toddler did pick up one of those grey lumps and put it in his mouth, just before his Mother screamed!

    • Wally Sittur says:

      @Harold Godwinson- Tresspassing on what beach? NO BEACHES ARE PRIVATE IN BERMUDA. only an access way to get on to one can be private. There are 2 laws everyone should be aware of- Queen’s Bottom and another called The Queen’s Foreshore law- look it up. I encourage everyone to look up these laws. NO ONE CAN TELL TO GET OFF ANY BEACH IN BERMUDA BECAUSE IT’S “PRIVATE”

  13. Creme Brulee says:

    The Minister’s excuse will probably be that it is a private access only beach… Which brings me to the thought that pollution notwithstanding, it is time to revisit the issue of public access to ALL beaches. I find it incredible that ordinary Bermudians and visitors are not allowed access to the miles of beaches in Tuckers Town and unless they somehow access them by water will never experience them during their life times. Come on OBA, enough of you guys are MOC members to do something about this.

    • Elston says:

      There are many miles of south shore beaches that don’t come even close to being crowded even at the height of summer. Most days, with a little searching, you can find a beach very near deserted. Probably the two nicest beaches on the island (Horseshoe and Warwick Long Bay) are public. So what if a few of them have restricted access? It’s not like there isn’t more than enough beach to go around…

      • Creme Brulee says:

        It’s not a few of them – It’s every South Shore Beach east of John Smith’s Bay, many miles of them, by my calculation well over 50% of all South Shore beaches. It is to my mind a travesty and national disgrace that this extraordinary resource cannot be equitably enjoyed by all who have contributed to the success of this country. Also, I find your excuse that there are plenty already for everybody completely missing the mark – there are plenty for a very few and a few for the many – and is indeed (unwittingly on your part, I am sure) essentially segregationist.

        • Toodle-oo says:

          Please let me know when I can come and sunbathe on your lawn and park my vehicle in your driveway while I do it .
          After all , it’s only your private property that you paid for and it should be open to all of us who helped build this island .

          • Redo says:

            Couldnt agree more. If anyone wants to enjoy the private beach at TPC or MOC, simply apply to be a member, pay your annual dues, meet your quarterly minimums, tip your servers, do your part to maintain the club….. it’s as easy as that. Or, there are miles and miles of free beaches elsewhere…your choice.

            • whoa nelly says:

              Tuckers pointers will need to do more to fix the problem. That area is just as smelly, with the same problem as Grape. Go see. Hope this does not reach their visitors.

    • Melissa says:

      It would be nice to have all beaches accessible…there are three ‘main’ beaches east of John Smith’s. I wouldn’t say there are miles of beaches…MOC/Tucker’s Point have one long beach divided by a rock promontory, then there is Windsor Beach and End Beach. Maybe it’s the not knowing that bothers you…but the beaches that extend west of John Smith’s are much more extensive. Yes, the eastern beaches in Tucker’s Town are lovely…maybe they host ‘open days’ where the non members can access to enjoy..

  14. Al says:

    Deal with the “Brown Halo”!

  15. Unearthed says:

    They should not be dumping “Raw” sewage into the ocean!! What kind of craziness is this. The dept of Health needs to require whoever is dumping the sewage in the ocean to at least process it before it goes into the ocean. This is disgusting.

  16. swing voter says:

    this is gross

  17. Terry says:

    As for the Ambergris that’s another story.

    It is not worth diddly anymore.

    Years ago it was and was used much in perfume.

    Synthetic materials and cheaper are used.

    hope everyone is having a sheety day.

  18. Ken Siegfried says:

    I like to use the analogy of drunk driving. You can do it for years and not have any accidents or arrests but that still does not make it right.

  19. Joonya says:

    Whale sh!t… been happening for yers…NEXT.

  20. OKAYMAN says:

    I invite Trevor Moniz to come down to Grape Bay with his family and swim in the ocean to prove its cleanliness.

    • Jim Jones says:

      Maybe have him spread out a blanket in the sand and have a nice picnic…..

    • Loquatz says:

      I swam there this morning. The balls tend to come in a wave – very localised. It’s just that they sit on the shore for a week …

    • and hur too says:

      Or around the corner at Tuckers Town. It’s all heading there, as the slow and deliberate winds and seas head there. Enjoy!!

  21. OKAYMAN says:

    Perhaps he can ask the US Consul to come with him and pick up a bit of this ‘Ambergris” and have fun pelting each other with it!

  22. SNS says:

    To the person who mentioned amergris…thank you!! I did a little google research and this makes perfect sense! I don’t think this has any connection to the sewage matter and although still very gross, I’m not that concerned about these “greaseballs”. I mean, c’mon, greaseballs??!! Why don’t you google that and see how much sense it makes.

    • Herb Adderley says:

      SNS…really, go down and pick one up, you will see why they call them greaseballs, and they come directily from the sewage outfall……thats a fact…

  23. well says:

    Never Heard of this Beach.

  24. well says:

    looks staged to me…

    • Smh says:

      The exact same thing I was thinking.

      • OKAYMAN says:

        Why don’t you go down there and see how ‘staged’ it is.

  25. Coffee says:

    This mess is causing the government millions in tourist revenue ! Let’s privitize it ! Oh I forgot we already have . And what a pretty name it has , Seabright , what’s so bright about it . Another half azz job done by the UBP/OBA back when there was plenty money . However the stingy and shrewd money management of yesteryear will cost us dearly today .
    How wonderful , a private beach decorated with public $&it . As for the grease in the balls , I bet your mozzarella that the Brothers on Bermudiana road are responsible for that .

    • Mike Hind says:

      Are you REALLY this desperate for them to fail?

      It’s really sad.

      Don’t you get that if the Government fails, we all fail?

      Do better, man. Seriously.

      • OKAYMAN says:

        Mike this is not a party political problem. It is a problem that needs to be dealt with urgently. Declining tourist numbers are a problem. Sick tourists would sound the absolute death knell. The thing is I live on Grape Bay and the grease balls are not nice. They Definitely come from the sewage outfall. To me they prove that effluent from the outfall is making it to our beautiful beaches but its the stuff we can’t see that comes from the outfall that I am more worried about. Singapore has dealt with this problem brilliantly and have treated the effluent from their own more overcrowded island so that it is actually drinkable again! UV light is another simple solution. My dilemma when I see kids staying in the holiday cottages on Grape Bay going into the sea during an Easterly of South Easterly. Do I warn the parents????

    • when there was plenty of money? says:

      You mean before the PLP squandered it?

    • Betty Dump says:

      Will you stop politicizing every piece of s*!t you read? Thanks

      • Coffee says:

        So because the OBA/UBP are the firefighters we shouldn’t shout fire when the countries burning down around us . Get real …FIRE .. We got an uncontrollable raging blaze offshore polluting the ocean , damaging the environment and heaven forbid ,depositing stinking mallteasers on the pink skin sands .

  26. Betty Dump says:

    grease balls or s*!t balls?

  27. SEWAGE PIPE into the sea.
    Cruise Ships.
    Pollution in Bermuda.

    Bermuda has had this little pipe off Seabright Avenue for some time(a few decades). There is also a situation near Tobacco Bay and something up in dockyard where there is some pumping of waste (what is the amount and is it treated?).

    This notion that we can pump waste into the ocean simply has to stop. Bermuda needs to be a leader, not just another country that uses the sea as a toilet bowl.

    Testing and having the health department posting results every week, is simply not going to cut it in the long run. Bermuda must do better and fully treat any waste before discarding into the sea.
    The cat is now out of the bag. So unless we all understand that our economic futures are at stake, no manner of PR’s and Minister Moniz waving a test sheet is going to placate the dumping of waste, unless it is fully treated.

    The idea that the ocean is a toilet bowl is quite outrageous. This point is something the OBA is not speaking to with any real conviction. It is all defensive and we need to hear what the SOLUTION and ACTION to this dumping of sewage is (Partially treated or not).

    Bermuda really needs to address the whole issue of how we address waste. We need to talk to scientists at B.I.O.S. to also understand what damage the mega ships do to our reefs when they are in the channel at 8 knots, wafting the silt over the coral reef and creating a slow kill of the corals.

    The Pesticides (ROUNDUP & others)
    The evidence is mounting alarmingly about the serious damage these chemicals are doing to our bees, tree frogs, amphibians, corals, and humans.
    Toxicology Expert Speaks Out About Roundup and GMOs

    The Dangers of Glyphosphate ROUNDUP In Our Food Supply Today – Roundup is used all over Bermuda
    The Horrific Truth about Roundup

    The dangers of GMO

    Monsanto in INDIA

    • Unearthed says:

      Bermuda is a joke. The leaders in both parties can’t even stand up for what’s right. TREVOR MONIZ/OBA are completely OKAY with the dumping of “Raw” sewage in the water. This is appalling and a disgrace.

      This island is doomed – there is no hope.

    • trix says:

      Totally, agree and also the our general “boating” population (recreational, fishing charters, cruises, ferries, etc.) How are they disposing of their refuse?

      One more point while on the subject. Everybody was quick to jump on the U.S. Consul’s back about bringing this problem to the forefront, and how wrong he was, but we all really should be thanking him otherwise this problem would never have come to light and NOTHING would be done about it.

  28. Kiskadee says:

    I bet the property round Grape Bay is going to decline in value. I wouldn’t want to live there

  29. Well it is untidy…and that is the bottom line…but now it has my attention…let’s sample the samples…catagorically define type of the greese….is it something that is commonly used here or could it be intitutional…commercial grade as that used on different catagories of shipping.

  30. Maybe their just cleaning out the cave systems where waste was pumped indiscriminately a few years back….

  31. Coffee says:

    Personally I swim at admiralty house and the only thing we watch out for is a white man in a white center console with a wide brim hat . He killed a friend of the family and has never been bought to justice . If any of you reading this are covering for your daddy or uncle , family friend please come forward and turn him in . He has been evading justice for twenty three years ! also he may have been toking on a cigar .

  32. Judge & Jury says:

    Pumping waste into the ocean is not environmentally safe. The Corp of Hamilton feels it is OK to pump cruise ship and business toilet poo into the ocean. Would you eat fish or other native seafood,around here knowing that they eat human waste.
    I have seen the pebbles on Grape Bay beach and also Horseshoe Bay beach early in the morning for years. The evidence on Horseshoe Bay is cleaned early every morning by a tractor daily. The balls come in various sizes and the inside of the ball is a greenish grey color. It smells like $S yet for years we have been told that they are harmless.
    I will not be swimming on any South Shore Beach or advise friends, visitors or children to swim there anymore.

    Now can we learn the truth about the shipwreck leaking mercury into Bermuda waters and the advisory about eating the fish here that can only be found online….