Warning after ship’s spilled cargo washes up in Fife

St Andrews has had timber wash up.
St Andrews has had timber wash up.

Police have warned the public to not grab hundreds of bundles of timber swept across the Scottish coastline after they went missing from a cargo ship.

The vessel, called the Frisian Lady, lost around 200 bundles of timber during severe weather which have scattered across the coastline of South-Eastern Scotland.

Lost timber has now been reported as washing up on beaches between St Andrews to Eyemouth in the Borders.

The cargo vessel lost a lot of its load while positioned 110 nautical miles east of Souter Lighthouse, off the coast of South Shields, Tyne and Weir.

Some of the timber was recovered at sea and the rest of the timber packets in various sizes between 2.5-3m long are believed to have largely broken up into individual planks.

Chief Inspector James Jones of Police Scotland is urging members of the public not to attempt to salvage any of the timber themselves.

He said: “Some areas of our coastline can be dangerous, with strong tides, deep water and rocky areas.

“Do not put yourself at risk by trying to recover any of the timber yourself – contractors who are brought in to clear the timber away have been trained to deal with such situations and have the equipment to do so, please leave it to the professionals.”

HM Coastguard had been issuing navigational safety broadcasts to warn shipping of the lost cargo after the incident but aerial surveillance indicates that most timber is no longer at sea in large concentrations and has washed ashore.

Under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, all recoveries of wreck material must be reported to the Receiver of Wreck.

Alison Kentuck, Receiver of Wreck for the Maritime & Coastguard Agency, said that the timber would not be useful for building even if it was salvaged.

She said: “Our biggest concern is to make sure that members of the public don’t put themselves at risk attempting to retrieve any timber.

“The timber will not be suitable for use as a building material as it’s been saturated with salt water.

“It is not a case of finders’ keepers, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency is continuing to work alongside the P&I Club and the local authorities to offer support for the clean-up operations.

“If members of the public see any timber washed ashore, this can be reported to the Aberdeen Coastguard Operations Centre on 01224 592 334.”