Pink Bottles on Cornish Beaches Update

Posted on: 10th January 2016

Pink bottles on Cornish beaches, update from Cornwall Council:

Work is continuing on collecting and disposing of the pink bottles which have been washing up on beaches in and around The Lizard Peninsula coastal area. Officers from the emergency management, waste and environment teams have been working with  the National Trust, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), Natural England, the Environment Agency, and contractors CORMAC and CORY Environmental, and the manufacturer of the product Reckitt Benckiser (RB) to organise the collection and disposal of the bottles.

The pink bottles, containing a regular household stain remover liquid, came from a container reported missing from a cargo ship. 18,720 bottles were being transported in the container of which approximately 50% have already been accounted for. Any sightings of bottles should be reported to the Council on 0300 1234 222. This number is monitored out of hours and so arrangements can be made for bottles to be collected.

So far the bottles have mainly washed up on National Trust owned beaches in the Lizard  although some have washed up on Council owned or managed beaches, and across other parts of Cornwall. The waste team have arranged for Cory Environmental to remove any bottles which wash up on Council beaches and have arranged for containers to be provided on privately owned beaches to enable the bottles to be removed safely. Most of the bottles have come ashore intact, with around 20% of them split.

As well as the response from the agencies there has been a very positive response from volunteers who have been helping in the clean up operation. This has included the Friends of Poldhu, who were the first to spot the bottles arriving, as well as staff from Culdrose Naval Air Station, Surfers Against Sewage volunteers and other individuals.

The number of bottles being washed up is significantly reducing, although all agencies are continuing to monitor the situation closely.  The MCA has flown three aerial surveillance flights over the affected area, which confirmed that the numbers of bottles being seen on the sea has reduced, with previously reported bottles on Tuesday and Wednesday now beached.  The MCA also has equipment, staff and support vessels on standby at Newlyn which may be used when the weather conditions improve.  This aims to help to contain and recover any new collections of bottles which are detected off shore before they reach the beaches.

We have been working with partners to produce information and advice for the public over the past five days. A number of multi agency conference calls have taken place over the past few days and we have issued a further statement today to re inforce the messages that the situation is under control, the success of the partnership working and that Cornwall is open for business.  Geoff Brown has agreed to act as the spokesperson to reinforce the multi agency message to the media if required.

Officers from the Council’s emergency management, waste, environment and communications teams will be continuing the monitor the situation over the weekend and are on stand by to take any further actions as required.