Beachgoers and dog walkers warned as potentially fatal substance confirmed on Formby beach
Authorities have warned beachgoers along Formby to stay clear of a mysterious yellow substance that has washed up on shore over the course of the past week. It can cause illness or death if ingested by dogs. The UK Coastguard says that it is likely to be partially decayed palm oil, which may be deadly to dogs if ingested. For now, the beaches remain open, and labs are testing the substance to confirm its identity.
National Trust in Formby said: "Rangers removed four deposits of what we believe to be palm oil off the stretch of beach between Gypsy Path and Ravenmeols today, 9th November. Please be careful if you are walking your dog in the area and report possible sightings to a member of National Trust staff as soon as possible."
"If it turns out to be harmless, great, but if it's palm oil dogs could end up very ill, and death is a possibility," said Fleetwood Coastguard station officer Mark Sumner.
Palm oil is a natural product used mainly in food processing and it can legally be released into the sea by ships. However, palm can be contaminated with fuel waste and other toxins and in solid form can be extremely harmful to dogs.
A spokesman for Sefton Council said: “A small amount of this palm oil, which is hazardous to dogs if ingested, was found on the shore in Formby and also between Birkdale and Ainsdale before being removed by our Coast and Countryside team.
According to Sefton Council, recent stormy weather means that decaying palm oil from a 26 year old shipwreck may wash up along the coastline. The source of the substance is believed to be the wreck of the product tanker Kimya. In January 1991, the Kimya was caught in a severe storm in the Irish Sea, about 15 nm southwest of Holyhead; she radioed a mayday and reported a list of 45 degrees, and she capsized within 15 minutes of the call. When she sank, she took her load of palm oil to the bottom. Rescuers were only able to save two members of her 12-man crew.
The Kimya was identified as the source of another palm oil spill that came ashore in Anglesey in March. The recent severe storms over the UK – Storm Aileen, Storm Brian and ex-hurricane Ophelia – may have moved the wreck again and dislodged some of its cargo.