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Warning to dog owners after white substance washes up on beaches between Folkestone and Sandgate

By KentOnline reporter

A white waxy substance that washed up on several Kent beaches is NOT palm oil, it has emerged.

Dog owners were warned to keep their pets away from the pollution - which was thought to be poisonous if eaten - after it appeared over the weekend.

Now, tests have revealed the substance is actually a mineral oil, thought to have come shipping in the Dover strait.

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The scene along the Lower Leas area

While it is not dangerous unless eaten, people are still being warned not to touch it or let animals go near it.

It is just one of the harmless materials that has come ashore this week due to stormy conditions, including whelk eggs.

At the moment, no seabirds have been affected by the oil, but people are asked to alert the RSPCA if they see any in a distressed state.

David Monk, leader of Shepway District Council, said: "There has been a successful clean-up operation this morning along the shoreline from the Folkestone Warren to Sandgate.

Some of the substance has been found on footpaths and roads - coastguard teams have tried to round it up and take it away

"We will monitor the situation to see if anything further washes up and carry out additional clean-up operations if required."

Chris Drake, KCC's coastal officer, and county oil pollution officer, said: "While major oil spills in the UK have been few in the 21st century, the form of pollution we have seen this week is becoming increasingly common and is a big challenge for local authorities with affected shorelines.

"KCC is responsible for the Kent and Medway Shoreline Pollution Emergency Plan which provides a policy framework for coastal shoreline pollution planning and response in Kent and Medway, and through the Kent Resilience Forum, KCC also chairs the Marine and Aquatic Pollution Group, comprising key agencies.

"In the event of a serious coastal pollution incident, KCC resources and those of the Maritime & Coastguard Agency can be deployed to assist the affected Districts.

Suspected palm oil on the beach was found to be whelk egg cases

"The Kent coast is rich in wildlife and many areas are designated as Marine Protected Areas, it is also vital for important industries, not least fisheries and tourism.

"The pollution which occurred this week is at a scale where our colleagues at Shepway District Council are able to manage the response.

"KCC will, however, work with all the agencies concerned to ensure that our coastline is quickly restored and that if possible, those responsible for the pollution are identified and made to cover the costs of the clean-up."

Earlier this week, the council admitted there was so much of the substance, they didn't know they were going to get rid of it.

It is a whiteish waxy substance which crumbles easily and smells like diesel or firelighters

The lumps came ashore between Folkestone and Sandgate, as well as on beaches in Thanet and Dover.

They were scattered along the high water mark from the Warren to Seabrook and were yellowish-white in colour.

Some of the oil was blown onto footpaths and roads near beaches.

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