From Devon County Council:
Devon County Council is reminding users of Household Waste Recycling Centres to think about the waste they are taking to the sites to avoid wasting the time of council staff and that of the emergency services.
It follows the temporary closure of the Knowle Hill Recycling Centre in Exmouth on Wednesday after an unknown chemical was dumped in the main bay at the centre, but it could happen anywhere.
For the safety of the public the centre was evacuated and closed for a few hours and the fire service were called.
The site reopened once the chemical – which turned out to be sheep dip – was removed.
Recycling Centres aren’t new to such suspicious finds, which have prompted temporary site closures while they’re investigated.
In 2016 in the same centre, the bomb squad was called after a cardboard box was found in the residual waste container with “unexploded ordnance” and some spent bullets.
And the year before in Honiton the Police were called after what appeared to be a human skull was found – it later transpired to be a skull used for educational purposes.
That year in the Crediton Centre marine flares were found, and a tank mortar shell was discovered in the Bideford Recycling Centre. Both sites had to be evacuated and closed while bomb disposal experts removed the items.
Devon County Council is reminding people, asking them to think twice about some items that might appear to be suspicious or potentially dangerous.
Councillor Andrea Davis, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for the Environment, said:
“On several occasions over the last few years, we have had to close one of our centres because somebody has decided to try and dispose of an item that is either suspicious or potentially dangerous. These closures are avoidable, and waste the time of the emergency services, our staff and cause inconvenience to the public. Some might think the contents of an old chest in the loft or garden shed is harmless, but it’s a question of perception, and we have no choice but to put the safety of people first. So please, if you are planning to take something to the recycling centre, just think for a minute, is there a chance someone might think it’s dangerous? If the answer is yes, talk to our staff first, don’t just throw it in a bay. Otherwise it causes unnecessary disruption and, even more seriously, it can also put site staff at risk of injury. However, flares, fireworks and ammunition should never be brought to our recycling centres and I would urge members of the public to be vigilant. If they see anything suspicious being thrown away, please inform a staff member.”
For advice on disposing of flares, fireworks or ammunition contact your local Police/Coastguard station.
You can contact the customer service centre (0345 155 1010) or visit our website (https://new.devon.gov.uk/wasteandrecycling/centre) for advice on the materials you can/cannot take to the recycling centre.