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Mystery White Substance is 'Rancid Cooking Oil'

praa sands beach
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5:59am 25th October 2013
(Updated 5:59am 25th October 2013)

A white substance washing up on Cornish beaches is rancid cooking oil.

Experts have identified the waxy lumps after a dog died from eating some near Penzance.

While it is not harmful to humans, we are being asked to stay away from it and keep dogs on a lead.

The clean up is now starting from Porthcurno to Praa Sands. it is thought that it could still continue to come ashore at other beaches over the next few days though.

Dr Femi Oshin, from the Devon, Cornwall and Somerset Public Health England Centre, said: “It’s reassuring that the substance has been found to be some kind of cooking oil. It has clearly turned rancid and that’s why we’ve had reports of it smelling so bad.

“While not harmful to people, it’s unpleasant, and we’d still advise people – and dog owners with their pets – to keep away from it, and allow the council’s contractors to get on with taking it away and disposing of it.”

In a statement Cornwall Council said: "Cornwall Council has advised that while the degraded oil is not harmful to human health, it could still be dangerous for dogs if they eat a large amount of the substance.

"Dog owners have already been advised to keep their dogs on a lead and away from any deposits when walking them on affected beaches.  The Council is instructing its contractors Cory to remove the oil from Cornwall Council owned beaches which have been affected and will be providing advice to the owners of private beaches on how to dispose of the substance.

"Both the Council and Cory are continuing to monitor beaches in Cornwall for further deposits of the oil but anyone who sees deposits of the oil is asked to report it to the Council’s customer contact centre on 0300 1234 141 during office hours."

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency is looking into the matter to try and identify the source of the pollution.

5:59am 25th October 2013

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