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Guards protect washed up pipes on Norfolk coast as salvage work gets underway

PUBLISHED: 17:40 14 August 2017 | UPDATED: 17:40 14 August 2017

Giant pipe washed up at Sea Palling. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Giant pipe washed up at Sea Palling. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

archant 2017

The final massive pipes which washed up on Norfolk beaches are set to be removed.

Giant pipe washed up at Sea Palling. Picture : ANTONY KELLYGiant pipe washed up at Sea Palling. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

After a North Sea crash between an Icelandic shipping container and a tug boat carrying seven pipes on July 18, sections of the plastic tubing ended up washing up on the coast.

Last week large lengths of the plastic piping washed up at Horsey, Waxham, Winterton and Sea Palling, with the latter section measuring nearly half a kilometre (1,574ft) long.

Pipelife, the Norwegian firm which made the polyethylene pipes, confirmed there were two sections left to collect, at Sea Palling, and Horsey, with that section set to be removed on Wednesday.

Export manager at Pipelife Norway, Trygve Blomster, said: “It is an unfortunate situation, as these pipes should have been delivered to our customer in Algeria and not floating around on the English coast.

Giant pipe washed up at Sea Palling. Picture : ANTONY KELLYGiant pipe washed up at Sea Palling. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

“But there is not much we can do when a big container ship runs into them at 17 knots full speed. It is out of our control.”

The impact of the crash caused the seven pipes to break up into a total of 13 pieces.

Working with the UK’s Marine and Coastguard Agency (MCA), a salvage master is coordinating an operation based in Lowestoft to remove the pipes which will be towed back to Norway.

A spokesman for the MCA said the longest pipe at Sea Palling will be cut into two to help with the move.

They added that local authorities and the Environment Agency remain fully involved in all removal operations, and with the MCA monitoring the salvors response.

The huge plastic tubes, which would be wide enough to drive a car through, became an impromptu tourist attraction with people posing for photos and walking on top of the pipes.

This prompted Pipelife to send in security guards to keep people away from the pipes, as they said there was a risk of getting crushed by them.

Mr Blomster added: “If a 2.5-metre diameter pipe, several hundred-metre long pipe is moving in the water it is extremely dangerous.

“If you fall beside that while it moved you will be smashed. If you walk on the pipe and you drop off it is extremely dangerous.”

The pipes were being towed to a power plant in Algeria from Surnadal in northern Norway.

Other beached items

Plenty of weird and wonderful things have washed up on beaches in our region.

Back in March 2002 thousands of starfish washed up at Holkham – it is thought they were dislodged from the seabed during a storm.

Last October a man claimed to have found a ‘dead mermaid’ on Great Yarmouth beach. Photos showing the ‘mythical sea creature’ went viral, but it emerged that it was a stunt by a designer.

In June 2013 a massive 40ft rubber structure washed up at Thornham, near Hunstanton. The so-called Yokahama fender was used to prevent large vessels from colliding with dock structures and to keep hulls apart during ship fuel transfers between giant supertankers.

Last August a Labrador belonging to Ludham woman Kate Gabriel found a message in a bottle from Belgium on Waxham beach.

More sinisterly, a huge £50m haul of cocaine washed up on several Norfolk beaches in January this year.

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