A Coastguard boss today hit out at people who dumped dangerous flares on a North-east street.
Nineteen flares were abandoned outside a coastguard station, prompting a police probe and criticism from the organisation’s area commander.
The flares, some of them more than 40 years old, were left outside the station between 12.30pm and 1.30pm yesterday.
Coastguard area commander for Grampian Ross Greenhill said: “The flares had 3.2kg explosives in them. There have been cases where the projectile from a flare has embedded itself inside a person, leading to their deaths.
“Luckily, someone was inside the station at the time to take them in, otherwise they would have been lying on the street for some time.
“It doesn’t bear thinking about what might have happened if they were still there by the time the local schools chucked out.”
Mr Greenhill added: “Some of the flares dated as far back as the mid-1970s, so could have been unstable.
“Had they ignited, it would have caused serious damage to the vehicle they were left beside, as well as the building and anyone who may have been passing the station.”
Today one of the stations in our area had a bag of flares abandoned outside. If you have flares to dispose of please…
Historically, people who use flares as distress signals on vessels have taken their out-of-date flares to Coastguard stations, but current rules require people to book an appointment with the Coastguard if they wish to dispose of any flares.
Mr Greenhill encouraged people to make such appointments following the incident at Buckie Coastguard Station in the town’s Commercial Road. He said people and commercial operators can also dispose of flares by returning them to the place from where they were bought.
Mr Greenhill said: “One problem is that some people buy them online. Often, online sellers have local contacts who can advise on their safe disposal.
“We would encourage them to contact those sellers or to enquire about booking an appointment with the Coastguard,” he added.
A Police Scotland spokesman said: “We have received a report about this incident and inquiries are ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to call 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
People wishing to book an appointment to dispose of flares should contact the Coastguard on 01224 592 334.