UPDATED: Thousands of cigarette packs wash up on Chesil Beach

Thousands of cigarette packs wash up on Chesil Beach

Thousands of cigarette packs wash up on Chesil Beach

First published in News
Last updated

THOUSANDS of packets of cigarettes have washed up on Chesil Beach.

Police and Coastguard officers arrived at the scene on Tuesday morning, along with representatives from HM Revenue and Custom.

The cigarettes are part of the cargo of cigarettes from a beached shipping container which washed up at Axmouth, Devon.

The Maritime Coastguard Agency was informed containers were lost from the ship as it crossed the Bay of Biscay in stormy conditions.

HMRC spokesman Bob Gaiger said they would be working with Dorset Police, the Coastguard, and local authorities to collect and secure the cigarettes.

Members of the public are being advised not to attend the coast in the hope of picking up some free cigarettes.

Mr Gaiger said: “There was a consignment of legitimate cigarettes being shipped from Rotterdam to Sri Lanka.

“They were washed overboard and what you have at Chesil Beach are cigarettes from this shipment that was washed overboard.”

Mr Gaiger confirmed the packets would be taken to a secure warehouse and eventually destroyed.

The owners of the consignment contacted HMRC, asking them to dispose of the cigarettes.

Mr Gaiger said: “From what I can gather they’re saturated cigarettes. You’ll hardly be able to smoke them.

“Common sense dictates really that the cigarettes are not going to be worth smoking, even if you managed to dry them out.”

Mr Gaiger advised people to leave the cigarettes where they were, but warned more could wash up in the coming days.

“That is a possibility because I think there was something like 11 million cigarettes in the shipment.

“It will be a case of whenever there’s a tide just checking the beach and recovering as many of the cigarettes as we can.”

Dorset Police’s Incident Commander Chief Inspector Dean O’Conner said: “The councils and emergency services of Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole are united in their plea to the public to think carefully about visiting the shoreline.

“The recent influx of cigarettes washed up onto the beaches may tempt some people to venture out in search of free tobacco but they will be disappointed because the cargo – lost overboard during storms earlier this month – has been badly damaged and is beyond use.

“Our main fear is for the safety of the public – landslips over the past few weeks remain a real risk and people should not put themselves at increased risk.

“Furthermore, the washed up cargo remains the property of the cargo owners. Local councils and beach owners are working together with the HMRC and Border Force to arrange for the cigarettes to be cleared up, collected and accounted for.”

Onlookers Louise and Mark Excell, from Weymouth, said they were surprised by the number of packets that had washed up.

Mrs Excell said: “It’s a bit strange to see all the cigarette packets all along the beach.”

Describing the clean-up operation, she added: “It is going to be a mammoth task especially without anybody coming to pinch them.”

The Maritime Coastguard Agency’s aerial surveillance aircraft scanned the coastline on Tuesday morning off Portland as a precaution in case other containers were in the area.

Thousands of packets have already been recovered from beaches in Devon.

Ships passing through the English Channel have been warned to report any sightings of loose containers.

Members of the public who spot any beached containers are asked to call the coastguard – although most are believed to be empty and have sunk 75 miles off Land’s End.

Simon Porter, MCA counter pollution and salvage officer, said: “We have been carrying out extensive searches over the last four days and spotted three containers, one of which has since come ashore and the other two are mid-Channel.

“We are working with Maersk to ensure they recover their containers.”

The Beer Coastguard Rescue Team, police and council officials spent yesterday at Axmouth beach and the container has been cordoned off.

Comments (25)

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11:07am Tue 25 Feb 14

annotater says...

Soggy cigarettes anyone?
Soggy cigarettes anyone? annotater
  • Score: 4

11:11am Tue 25 Feb 14

Get a grip says...

Try drying them out on the radiator

Bit of a fag I know
Try drying them out on the radiator Bit of a fag I know Get a grip
  • Score: 3

12:41pm Tue 25 Feb 14

TenBobDylanThomasHardy says...

Ironic, the ciggies are being watched over by Beer Coastguard.
Ironic, the ciggies are being watched over by Beer Coastguard. TenBobDylanThomasHardy
  • Score: 6

2:03pm Tue 25 Feb 14

mrgoo says...

the black market will be flooded with em!
the black market will be flooded with em! mrgoo
  • Score: 7

2:40pm Tue 25 Feb 14

woodsedge says...

Just drove a long the causeway and saw 3 lads get put of a van and run up the shingle with buckets!
Just drove a long the causeway and saw 3 lads get put of a van and run up the shingle with buckets! woodsedge
  • Score: 1

3:04pm Tue 25 Feb 14

islandman says...

When is the next car boot sale ?
When is the next car boot sale ? islandman
  • Score: 1

4:42pm Tue 25 Feb 14

Get a grip says...

20 Beaches & Hedges please
20 Beaches & Hedges please Get a grip
  • Score: 3

4:56pm Tue 25 Feb 14

Altview says...

Incredible! Tonnes of rubbish, potentially harmful lumps of palm oil & hundreds of dead birds washed up and the authorities all pass the buck to local volunteers. But now a few soggy unsmokable fags wash up and Chesil beach is knee deep in Police, Coastguards, Customs and Border Agency. I would hazard a bet they won't be helping to clear the other rubbish?
Incredible! Tonnes of rubbish, potentially harmful lumps of palm oil & hundreds of dead birds washed up and the authorities all pass the buck to local volunteers. But now a few soggy unsmokable fags wash up and Chesil beach is knee deep in Police, Coastguards, Customs and Border Agency. I would hazard a bet they won't be helping to clear the other rubbish? Altview
  • Score: 32

5:25pm Tue 25 Feb 14

JamesYoung says...

Altview wrote:
Incredible! Tonnes of rubbish, potentially harmful lumps of palm oil & hundreds of dead birds washed up and the authorities all pass the buck to local volunteers. But now a few soggy unsmokable fags wash up and Chesil beach is knee deep in Police, Coastguards, Customs and Border Agency. I would hazard a bet they won't be helping to clear the other rubbish?
Exactly. The government doesn't have resources to build effective flood defences, but as soon as there's a whiff of somebody smoking untaxed fags, there are revenue men under every pebble on the beach.
[quote][p][bold]Altview[/bold] wrote: Incredible! Tonnes of rubbish, potentially harmful lumps of palm oil & hundreds of dead birds washed up and the authorities all pass the buck to local volunteers. But now a few soggy unsmokable fags wash up and Chesil beach is knee deep in Police, Coastguards, Customs and Border Agency. I would hazard a bet they won't be helping to clear the other rubbish?[/p][/quote]Exactly. The government doesn't have resources to build effective flood defences, but as soon as there's a whiff of somebody smoking untaxed fags, there are revenue men under every pebble on the beach. JamesYoung
  • Score: 21

5:31pm Tue 25 Feb 14

notweymouth says...

20 Chesils, please!
20 Chesils, please! notweymouth
  • Score: 4

6:10pm Tue 25 Feb 14

Sally MacLennane says...

Madonna will be down wetherspoons toilets drying them under the hairdryer..
Madonna will be down wetherspoons toilets drying them under the hairdryer.. Sally MacLennane
  • Score: -4

6:11pm Tue 25 Feb 14

portlandresident says...

Fantastic. "Mr Gaiger confirmed the packets would be taken to a secure warehouse and eventually destroyed." Yes of course they will. No they won't. Whoever gets the job of 'destroying them' will sell them. Don't be so stupid to think that someone's not going to! Cigarette anyone?
Fantastic. "Mr Gaiger confirmed the packets would be taken to a secure warehouse and eventually destroyed." Yes of course they will. No they won't. Whoever gets the job of 'destroying them' will sell them. Don't be so stupid to think that someone's not going to! Cigarette anyone? portlandresident
  • Score: -4

8:32pm Tue 25 Feb 14

zimini says...

portlandresident wrote:
Fantastic. "Mr Gaiger confirmed the packets would be taken to a secure warehouse and eventually destroyed." Yes of course they will. No they won't. Whoever gets the job of 'destroying them' will sell them. Don't be so stupid to think that someone's not going to! Cigarette anyone?
It is easy to post cheap jibes from behind the anonymity of this site. I challenge you, Portlandresident to back up this inane, unfounded and nasty slur with some sort of evidence or withdraw it.
However, what I expect is that you will reply with more insults and more of the kind of universal, vicious cynicism that is making this country a sad, sad place to live. Prove me wrong...
[quote][p][bold]portlandresident[/bold] wrote: Fantastic. "Mr Gaiger confirmed the packets would be taken to a secure warehouse and eventually destroyed." Yes of course they will. No they won't. Whoever gets the job of 'destroying them' will sell them. Don't be so stupid to think that someone's not going to! Cigarette anyone?[/p][/quote]It is easy to post cheap jibes from behind the anonymity of this site. I challenge you, Portlandresident to back up this inane, unfounded and nasty slur with some sort of evidence or withdraw it. However, what I expect is that you will reply with more insults and more of the kind of universal, vicious cynicism that is making this country a sad, sad place to live. Prove me wrong... zimini
  • Score: -9

9:07pm Tue 25 Feb 14

Noidear says...

Now we're smoking.
Now we're smoking. Noidear
  • Score: 2

9:18pm Tue 25 Feb 14

peskykat says...

islandman wrote:
When is the next car boot sale ?
Dorchester Car Boot on Sunday, or Yeovil Carboot for more space .
[quote][p][bold]islandman[/bold] wrote: When is the next car boot sale ?[/p][/quote]Dorchester Car Boot on Sunday, or Yeovil Carboot for more space . peskykat
  • Score: -2

9:30pm Tue 25 Feb 14

jobeana says...

Altview - that is exactly what they were doing where we were along the coast today. They had all the hi-viz gear on & large clear bags. They were only clearing up cig packets but leaving all the other stuff. :o( They were there for about half an hour at a time and would fill only half a bag before rushing back to the van if it rained a little. If we have to rely on the "officials" to do it, it'll take months.

There are more packets than just "thousands" though, more like hundreds of thousands. A majority of them are soggy but loads of them are completely dry in their cellophane and perfectly smoke-able once the wrapping was off. We saw people picking over the packs and cherry picking the dry boxes.

Good luck to everyone and well done for cleaning up the beach by taking some "rubbish" home with you ;o)

What a week to give up smoking!
Altview - that is exactly what they were doing where we were along the coast today. They had all the hi-viz gear on & large clear bags. They were only clearing up cig packets but leaving all the other stuff. :o( They were there for about half an hour at a time and would fill only half a bag before rushing back to the van if it rained a little. If we have to rely on the "officials" to do it, it'll take months. There are more packets than just "thousands" though, more like hundreds of thousands. A majority of them are soggy but loads of them are completely dry in their cellophane and perfectly smoke-able once the wrapping was off. We saw people picking over the packs and cherry picking the dry boxes. Good luck to everyone and well done for cleaning up the beach by taking some "rubbish" home with you ;o) What a week to give up smoking! jobeana
  • Score: 9

9:57pm Tue 25 Feb 14

Tinker2 says...

If the cigarettes have washed in from 'offshore' and outside of UK limits, then perhaps they are 'duty free'?
In any case I thought you were legally allowed to collect such items, provided you filled out a form and gave the owners the chance to collect. You are by all effects saving them from harm and keeping them safe.
However it may be found that many of these items simply vanish, they go up in smoke! Puffing to nothing
If the cigarettes have washed in from 'offshore' and outside of UK limits, then perhaps they are 'duty free'? In any case I thought you were legally allowed to collect such items, provided you filled out a form and gave the owners the chance to collect. You are by all effects saving them from harm and keeping them safe. However it may be found that many of these items simply vanish, they go up in smoke! Puffing to nothing Tinker2
  • Score: 3

11:04pm Tue 25 Feb 14

westernkanker says...

Screw the state and law..-.grab what you can and give them the finger.finders keepers.
Screw the state and law..-.grab what you can and give them the finger.finders keepers. westernkanker
  • Score: 4

11:23pm Tue 25 Feb 14

westernkanker says...

zimini wrote:
portlandresident wrote:
Fantastic. "Mr Gaiger confirmed the packets would be taken to a secure warehouse and eventually destroyed." Yes of course they will. No they won't. Whoever gets the job of 'destroying them' will sell them. Don't be so stupid to think that someone's not going to! Cigarette anyone?
It is easy to post cheap jibes from behind the anonymity of this site. I challenge you, Portlandresident to back up this inane, unfounded and nasty slur with some sort of evidence or withdraw it.
However, what I expect is that you will reply with more insults and more of the kind of universal, vicious cynicism that is making this country a sad, sad place to live. Prove me wrong...
Go find a copy of public sector robot git monthly that you have not stuck the pages together of and smother yourself with it. Failing that seek relief by jerking off to a harriet harman poster.

Howzat?
[quote][p][bold]zimini[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]portlandresident[/bold] wrote: Fantastic. "Mr Gaiger confirmed the packets would be taken to a secure warehouse and eventually destroyed." Yes of course they will. No they won't. Whoever gets the job of 'destroying them' will sell them. Don't be so stupid to think that someone's not going to! Cigarette anyone?[/p][/quote]It is easy to post cheap jibes from behind the anonymity of this site. I challenge you, Portlandresident to back up this inane, unfounded and nasty slur with some sort of evidence or withdraw it. However, what I expect is that you will reply with more insults and more of the kind of universal, vicious cynicism that is making this country a sad, sad place to live. Prove me wrong...[/p][/quote]Go find a copy of public sector robot git monthly that you have not stuck the pages together of and smother yourself with it. Failing that seek relief by jerking off to a harriet harman poster. Howzat? westernkanker
  • Score: -3

2:58am Wed 26 Feb 14

kieran2698 says...

Tinker2 wrote:
If the cigarettes have washed in from 'offshore' and outside of UK limits, then perhaps they are 'duty free'?
In any case I thought you were legally allowed to collect such items, provided you filled out a form and gave the owners the chance to collect. You are by all effects saving them from harm and keeping them safe.
However it may be found that many of these items simply vanish, they go up in smoke! Puffing to nothing
You only have wreckers rights if the owners do not put in a claim. They already have done, they reported the loss while they were still at sea so as soon as they started washing ashore they already had full ownership. It's a shame but it's criminal to take them now.
[quote][p][bold]Tinker2[/bold] wrote: If the cigarettes have washed in from 'offshore' and outside of UK limits, then perhaps they are 'duty free'? In any case I thought you were legally allowed to collect such items, provided you filled out a form and gave the owners the chance to collect. You are by all effects saving them from harm and keeping them safe. However it may be found that many of these items simply vanish, they go up in smoke! Puffing to nothing[/p][/quote]You only have wreckers rights if the owners do not put in a claim. They already have done, they reported the loss while they were still at sea so as soon as they started washing ashore they already had full ownership. It's a shame but it's criminal to take them now. kieran2698
  • Score: 4

9:06am Wed 26 Feb 14

DR_Sharpe says...

I've been told one in 20 packets are water tight and completely usable hahaha...The story's saying there not is so people don't take them anyway I don't smoke so no good to me lol.
I've been told one in 20 packets are water tight and completely usable hahaha...The story's saying there not is so people don't take them anyway I don't smoke so no good to me lol. DR_Sharpe
  • Score: 0

9:56am Wed 26 Feb 14

bigfatlad says...

Any chance of a couple of million tins of lager washing up?
Any chance of a couple of million tins of lager washing up? bigfatlad
  • Score: 5

1:34pm Wed 26 Feb 14

RifRafDac says...

bigfatlad wrote:
Any chance of a couple of million tins of lager washing up?
Good call, that would be amazing! Cider would be greatly welcomed too!
[quote][p][bold]bigfatlad[/bold] wrote: Any chance of a couple of million tins of lager washing up?[/p][/quote]Good call, that would be amazing! Cider would be greatly welcomed too! RifRafDac
  • Score: 2

2:54pm Wed 26 Feb 14

portland rebel says...

What a joke, we get dead animals, toxic palm oil balls, and god knows what else washed up and all the agencies do is argue for days about who is responsible, we get a few thousand fags and the beaches and rocks are covered with hi viz non jobs afraid someone might get something for nothing.
What a joke, we get dead animals, toxic palm oil balls, and god knows what else washed up and all the agencies do is argue for days about who is responsible, we get a few thousand fags and the beaches and rocks are covered with hi viz non jobs afraid someone might get something for nothing. portland rebel
  • Score: 10

6:38pm Wed 26 Feb 14

westernkanker says...

woodsedge wrote:
Just drove a long the causeway and saw 3 lads get put of a van and run up the shingle with buckets!
I am surprised you could not leave them alone...like so many Harriet Harmans ;-)
[quote][p][bold]woodsedge[/bold] wrote: Just drove a long the causeway and saw 3 lads get put of a van and run up the shingle with buckets![/p][/quote]I am surprised you could not leave them alone...like so many Harriet Harmans ;-) westernkanker
  • Score: -5

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