Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) campaigners spent yesterday afternoon recovering 80 'Baxters' medical bags that have been washing up at Sennen Cove, Cornwall. The bags have also been reported on beaches on the Isles of Scilly, Marazion and Flushing, near Falmouth.
The medical bags are plastic and contain sodium chloride (salt) and Nutrineal (amino acid) solutions and were en route from Ireland to Spain to be used in hospitals. The products were part of a container shipload that left Castlebar on the 10th December bound for the port of Bilbao in Northern Spain. The vessel carrying these products, the MV Endeavor, reportedly met high seas off the Isles of Scilly and it was subsequently found that 11 containers had been lost overboard. The containers are also believed to contain raw tobacco, milk powder, wooden doors, scaffolding and non-toxic fibre.
SAS are concerned by the increasing impact shipping containers lost at sea are having on the marine environment and those using the water for recreation and have today written to the Shipping Minister for his assessment of the situation in UK waters. Lloyd's estimated worldwide container underway losses to have reached 10,000 per year in 2004.
Only last year over 100 containers spilled overboard when the MSC Napoli got into difficulties in local waters. £50million was spent on the clean up though not before it had a devastating affect on local wildlife with over 1000 sea birds affected by the disaster. It is quite possible that these see-through PVC medical bags will be mistaken by local wildlife for jellyfish and if swallowed could cause death or serious injury.
SAS have also sent some of the medical bags to the ship owners (Endeavor Shipping BV in the Netherlands) and the ship's International Safety Management company (JR Ship Management BV in the Netherlands) who are responsible for the safe operation of the ship and its pollution prevention. SAS expect a comprehensive report from them on the how this incident occurred. This forms part of their 'Return To Offender' anti-beach litter campaign.
Richard Hardy SAS Campaigns Director says: 'Whilst the salt solution inside the medical bags will feel quite at home in the sea the plastic bag it's contained in can cause all kind of trouble, particularly for local marine wildlife. With lost shipping containers increasingly being noticed as responsible for beach litter incidents SAS would like to see an urgent investigation carried out by the Department of Transport into it's true impact for UK coastal waters'.
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