Exeter specialists were called in after a 25-litre drum of highly toxic and dangerous acid was found in a Devon car park.
The Environment Agency and Teignbridge District Council have launched an appeal for information after the container was fly-tipped in a public car park near Shaldon.
The dumped drum was found by a council civil enforcement officer near Labrador Bay between Shaldon and Maidencombe on the A379. Overlooking the sea, the car park is popular with visitors and picnickers who stop to enjoy the spectacular coastal views.
The drum was unopened and undamaged and had been placed under a bollard on a grass verge. It contained an acid-based formulation with a trade name ‘Neolith’ used by the construction industry as a masonry cleaner.
The contents included hydrofluoric acid and phosphoric acid. A label on the drum warned these chemicals cause severe burns and are highly toxic if inhaled.
A specialist hazardous waste company from Exeter was called in to remove the drum and transport it to a suitable site for safe disposal. An Emergency Planning Officer from Teignbridge Council met the spill response team at the car park and remained on site until the drum had been safely removed.
Dave Brogden from the Environment Agency, said: “Whoever dumped this dangerous acid in a public car park was incredibly irresponsible. A person could have been seriously injured if they had accidently come into contact with the contents of this drum. We would urge anyone who saw a person or persons behaving suspiciously at Labrador Bay car park or who might have information about this offence to contact us.”
Teignbridge spokesman Cllr Kevin Lake said, ’Our civil enforcement officer acted quickly to alert the relevant authorities and the drum was disposed of in the correct way. We could have been facing a much more serious situation had it been damaged or opened.
‘Fly-tipping is a criminal offence and we encourage anyone to let us know if they have seen any incidences so we can deal with them promptly and safely. We urge anyone who may know more about this incident to come forward.’
Members of the public can call the Environment Agency’s free 24 hour hotline 0800 80 70 60 to report environmental crimes.