Northumberland beaches reopen with a warning to stay cautious after palm oil cleared away

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Beaches in Northumberland have reopened after a weekend closure when an unknown substance was washed up.

Newton-by-the-Sea and Embleton beaches were closed after reports of a substance, believed to be palm oil, was found.

Cllr Gordon Stewart, cabinet member for Looking After Our Communities at Northumberland County Council, said: “We had staff out on Sunday in response to the initial reports and again this morning to revisit those beaches in case any more had washed up. We have also responded to reports of some deposits at the southern end of Beadnell Bay and Football Hole Beach.

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“And while council teams have now removed the oil, dog owners should remain vigilant as there may be more washed up in the coming days.”

Angie Garrard and her dog Ruby.Angie Garrard and her dog Ruby.
Angie Garrard and her dog Ruby.

Palm oil can get into the marine environment when it is legally released at sea by ships when vessels wash out their tanks. The resulting substances are often mixed with other chemicals such as diesel, making it extremely harmful if ingested.

Angie Garrard, 64, from Christon Bank, was walking her rescue dog Ruby at Embleton beach on Saturday which had to have her stomach emptied after she ate the oil.

After researching and identifying the substance, she took Ruby straight to the vets who gave her an injection to induce vomiting in order to remove the substance. Thankfully, she has recovered.

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Even a small taste is toxic for dogs and can be fatal but, despite that fact, they love the taste. When palm oil is washed up onto the beach it is white or yellow and waxy in appearance and can range in a variety of sizes from pebble sized, semi-solid lumps to larger blocks that have an unpleasant diesel smell.

Palm oil was found in chunks on Beadnell beach this morning (October 23).Palm oil was found in chunks on Beadnell beach this morning (October 23).
Palm oil was found in chunks on Beadnell beach this morning (October 23).

Cllr Stewart added: “Dog owners should be cautious when walking their pets on the beach. If they suspect their dog has eaten any of the substance they should consider taking it to the vets immediately.”

If you spot palm oil washed up on a beach you should report it via the Northumberland County Council website as littering using the Fix My Street feature and GPS and they will arrange with the appropriate landowner for its removal.

Alternatively, call 0345 600 6400 and ideally use an app like what3words to help staff pinpoint the location of the pollution.