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Dangerous flare found on Achill beach

News

DANGEROUS A marine flare which was found on Dooagh Beach on Achill Island.

Anton McNulty

A MARINE flare that was found on a beach on Achill Island over the weekend could have caused serious injury or even death if it had discharged while being handled.
The flare, which was in poor condition, was discovered on Friday evening, high up on Dooagh beach, by a visitor to the island who contacted the Gardaí. With the help of the local Coast Guard unit, the device was identified as one used in search and rescue missions, which can burn for up to an hour and a half.
The tube was approximately 18 inches long and four inches in diameter. Written in block letters on the outside of the shell was a warning: ‘Do not handle contains phosphorus’.
The area was sealed off overnight by members of the Achill Coast Guard unit, and the army bomb disposal unit from Athlone arrived at approximately 6am on Saturday morning. They considered carrying out a controlled explosion at the scene, but due to the device’s location on rocks and close proximity to houses, they decided to remove the object from the beach.
A spokesperson for the Achill Coast Guard unit explained that the device is normally used by search and rescue teams at sea and would be dropped from planes or helicopters to mark locations. He added that it had the potential to cause serious injury if discharged, as phosphorus burns at intense heat.
“Phosphorus is an extremely hazardous substance, and the main concern was that the device was in a poor condition and could be unstable. Phosphorus burns at intense heat. If it was handled and discharged or self-discharged, it would have caused serious injuries and possibly been fatal. These devices burn for an hour and a half, while the normal marine flares last for only about 30 seconds.
“The person who found the device did the right thing in contacting the Gardaí. If anyone ever sees anything suspicious on the beach, they should not handle it. If it is safe to do so, they should photograph it and contact the Gardaí and the Coast Guard,” the spokesperson told The Mayo News.