Safety message following timber spill

Timber at Westward Ho!

Posted on: 5 January 2018

Timber spilled from a cargo ship is being washed ashore, prompting safety advice for the public to take care on North Devon’s beaches over the coming days.

The timber is believed to have fallen earlier this week from the cargo vessel Lady Ariane. The vessel lost some of its deck cargo during poor weather conditions in the early hours of Wednesday 3 January. The timber packets, totalling approximately 8 tonnes, are believed to have largely broken up into individual planks. The vessel was able to find shelter, and secured the remaining cargo before continuing its journey.

The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) has advised North Devon Council and Torridge District Council that a large number of timber pieces have already washed up at Westward Ho! along the North Devon coast, with more expected to appear on North Devon beaches over the next couple of days. Given the current bad weather conditions, the council is urging local people not to put themselves at risk trying to salvage the wood.

Under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, all recoveries of wreck material (which covers any timber lost from a vessel at sea) must be reported to the Receiver of Wreck. Failing to report removal of wreck to the Receiver is a criminal offence. The link do so is: www.gov.uk/report-wreck-material.

Alison Kentuck, Receiver of Wreck for the Maritime & Coastguard Agency, said: “HM Coastguard has been monitoring the drift pattern of the timber cargo and the likelihood of where it will wash up. Coastguard Rescue Teams have also been patrolling these areas to locate any timber. The timber will not be suitable for use as a building material as it’s been saturated with salt water.

“Our biggest concern is to make sure that members of the public don’t put themselves at risk attempting to retrieve any timber, especially given the current weather conditions. It is not a case of finders keepers, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency is continuing to work alongside the ship’s agents and the local authority. If members of the public see any timber washed ashore, this can be reported to the Coastguard on 01326 317575.”

Leader of North Devon Council, Councillor Des Brailey, said: “We’re working with the MCA and other agencies to monitor the situation and we are expecting more of the timber to wash up with the next tide. Please take extra care when using our beaches over the coming days and don’t take any unnecessary risks.”

Leader of Torridge District Council, Councillor Jane Whittaker, said: “With high winds, high tides and large waves we urge the public to stay safe and not put themselves or others in danger by looking for the timber.”

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