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South Coast Beaches (Chemicals)

Volume 981: debated on Thursday 27 March 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what further progress has been made in dealing with chemicals being washed ashore on South Coast beaches; and if he will make a statement.

The local 'authorities are maintaining their vigilance and one of the scientific staff of my Department has recently visited the county authorities along the coast mainly affected.The most recent position is that over the past three months around 3,500 containers have been collected of many different kinds, about, 1,500 on the Isle of Wight. Very many contain small quantities of chemicals; although a number are dangerous the majority do not present unusual hazards. Containers are frequently washed ashore, especially in the winter months, but this year in some parts of the South Coast their numbers do seem to have been higher than usual. Between 20 per cent. and 40 per cent. are probably from the "Aeolian Sky". Of 40 containers of arsenic trichloride lost from the "Tozeur" 32 have now been collected; none has been found during the past five weeks.I have been impressed by the efforts made by local authorities, coastguards, fire brigades and the police to see that the beaches are kept as clear and safe as possible. Local authorities will be making special efforts before the Easter holiday to patrol popular beaches and check those that are less accessible. An intensive sweep is planned in particular of the beaches on the Isle of Wight.Containers found on beaches can be hazardous and parents should warn their children not to touch then It is never possible to guard against every risk but exceptional vigilance has been and will be displayed this winter and spring to clear the beaches on the Isle of Wight and elsewhere on the coastline affected by recent events.