More mystery pills on beach

MYSTERY still surrounds the origin of thousands of white tablets which closed Hunmanby Gap – and spread to Scarborough’s North Bay.

The huge stretch of beach at Hunmanby Gap reopened yesterday after thousands of the pills washed ashore were declared harmless.

A sample of the tablets were sent thousands of miles to America for testing in specialist laboratories.

However the origin of the substance, its purpose and how it washed ashore in such quantities was no closer to being resolved, as hundreds more white pills were found on sand at Scarborough’s North Bay yesterday morning.

As the Evening News revealed, emergency services were at the three-mile beach at Hunmanby, which was closed Wednesday afternoon and yesterday. They decided it was not necessary to close Scarborough’s beaches, where the mystery objects were also spotted.

Martin Johnson, chairman of Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre, first noticed “dozens if not hundreds or more” of the objects washed up on the North Bay, where he was walking at about 10.30am.

He said: “They were spread out on the high water line. People just walked past them and through them and nobody was in the slightest bit concerned following all the furore on Wednesday.”

At Hunmanby Gap yesterday morning, a Scarborough Council team was deployed and tasked with the painstaking job of retrieving the tiny white pellets.

After several on-site tests, carried out by a mobile hazardous materials team proved inconclusive, a decision was taken to send samples to an American lab for analysis.

Tests indicated the small white pellets are non toxic and pose no risk to the public.

The source of the material is not yet known but it appears to be a hydrocarbon salt commonly used in detergents and lubricants.

Scarborough Council will now continue to monitor the situation at Hunmanby Gap and on other beaches along the coastline and say any significant deposits will be removed.

The council’s head of Environmental Services Andy Skelton said: “The council is grateful for the assistance provided by the police and other agencies in resolving this issue.

“Cleansing staff have worked hard to remove as much of the product as possible. We’re obviously pleased to have determined the product is non toxic and we will continue to monitor the situation over the coming bank holiday weekend.”

The Health Protection Agency has confirmed that preliminary results from the testing have indicated the material is of a plastic type.

It is of a non-toxic nature and the Agency has confirmed the material poses no significant risk to health.

Insp Leo Suret from North Yorkshire Police said: “Our thanks go to members of the public for their patience and observance of the closure of the beach. We worked hard with our partner agencies to resolve this issue and are pleased the beach is now open again and there is no risk to members of the public or the environment.”