St Ives RNLI’s inshore lifeboat launched this morning to assist swimmers amid reports of a chemical spill in a stream.

The lifeboat crew on scene. Photograph: RNLI/Niki Brooks

At 1.45pm, Hayle and St Ives Community Network confirmed there had been a sewage leak, but that the situation was now under control, with locals no longer needing to keep windows and doors shut.

Environment Agency officers are now putting plans in place to safely remove the contaminated water. As a precaution, residents living in and around Carninney Lane are being asked to stay away from the affected area while this work continues. Water sources in the area have not been affected.

Helm, Jonathan Harvey, launched the lifeboat with George Deacon and Ian Timms, and they made their way to Carbis Bay beach. There were concerns for anyone in the sea there. The main job was to speak to swimmers and ensure that they got out of the sea safely.

The crew saw some people fishing on a rock and advised them of the situation. One of the crew left the lifeboat to talk with the coastguard, who advised that the chemical spill was sulphuric acid. The acid had been spilt into a local stream that comes out by the beach and the sea at Carbis Bay.

The other crew members actively told swimmers of the situation and advised them to make their way back to the beach. A few members of the public were said to be experiencing difficulties breathing, but, with the assistance of the crew, all got safely back to the beach.

The beach has been closed to the public while the police and fire service take control of the situation. The fire service had teams from St Ives, Penzance, Tolvaddon, and St Just at the scene.