Port users warned after boat sinks off Lowestoft coast and “hazardous” barrels wash up on beach

Emergency services respond to reports of hazardous barrels washing up on Kessingland Beach. Photo: H

Emergency services respond to reports of hazardous barrels washing up on Kessingland Beach. Photo: HM Coastguard Lowestoft and Southwold. - Credit: Archant

Twelve metal barrels labelled to be containing a 'hazardous substance' washed up on Kessingland Beach after the tug boat they were aboard sank.

One of the barrels from the sunken tug boat, Ella, that washed up on Kessingland Beach. Photo: HM Co

One of the barrels from the sunken tug boat, Ella, that washed up on Kessingland Beach. Photo: HM Coastguard Lowestoft and Southwold. - Credit: Archant

The wreck, roughly four miles off the coast of Lowestoft, is currently presenting a hazard to shipping navigation. A temporary exclusion zone has been placed around the sunken vessel by Trinity House - the charity dedicated to safeguarding shipping and seafarer and a local notice to mariners has been issued to alert Lowestoft port users.

Lowestoft and Southwold Coastguard Rescue responded to the incident at 9.26am, on Thursday, July 6, following reports of three metal barrels on the beach.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service crews from Lowestoft, Leiston, Wrentham and Beccles were also requested due to the potentially hazardous material.

Following inspection it was determined they were empty and contained no hazardous material. In total 12 barrels were found between Kessingland and Benacre.

Emergency services respond to reports of hazardous barrels washing up on Kessingland Beach. Photo: H

Emergency services respond to reports of hazardous barrels washing up on Kessingland Beach. Photo: HM Coastguard Lowestoft and Southwold. - Credit: Archant


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The boat, called Ella, was being towed by another tug boat the Kingston Lacy, when it sank early in the morning. Lowestoft Lifeboat were alerted at 3.20am but were not needed after it was discovered there was no one on board.

David Burwood, Lowestoft coastguard rescue officer, said: 'We felt the response was adequate. Personally we all believe that it is better to be safe than sorry.

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'If these barrels had either contained chemicals or worse, leaked them into the sea, it would of been much worse by putting people at risk.

'Therefore it was required to ensure that the area was safe and that there was no contamination in the sea.'

Following reports of a light sheen on the water the Maritime and Coastguard Agency Counter Pollution Team carried out daily flights over the site until SUnday.

A spokesman for MCA said: 'The aircraft reported the light sheen is less than half a mile long and is breaking up. It would appear that the sheen is diesel of an unknown quantity. We believe it's highly likely to be residual diesel from the engine – given its light sheen - because we know the vessel wasn't carrying any fuel when it sank.'

The spokesman said they will continue to monitor the situation.

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