Warning: old flares can kill

SHETLAND boat owners have been reminded of the dangers of irresponsibly dumping old flares.

The Shetland Coastguard issued a warning on Friday that disused flares should be disposed of appropriately after a number of them were found in skips.

Coastguard sector manager John Webster expressed concern over the amount found. He said: “Over the last three months council workers have been picking upwards of 60 old flares from community skips, some of which were in a very dire state.

“It is unbelievable that boat owners are stupid enough to dump these flares in their community skips.

“It worries me that these people don’t seem to have a conscience. Could they live with themselves if they knew that flare had gone off and either maim somebody or worse, kill somebody?”

This could have been a reality as on one occasion a flare had gone off and hit the cab of a digger that was busy separating the contents of the skip.

Mr Webster said: “If it had been a nice day, the chances are that the driver would have had the front window open, and then we could have been dealing with a very different situation all together.”

Emergency flares can be extremely powerful missiles. They reach a height of 300 metres in just two and half seconds and burn very hot and intensely. They usually have a shelf life of four years and need to be disposed off thereafter.

Mr Webster reminded boat owners that the Shetland coastguard offer a free disposal service for flares and, with the help of the bomb disposal team, regularly burn them in a controlled environment.

He said: “It is illegal for anybody to dump time expired pyrotechnics, people are supposed to dispose them in a proper manner.”


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