Massive haul of illegal fireworks

AN undercover operation by trading standards has today revealed a massive and potentially lethal stockpile of illegally stored fireworks in Suffolk.Nine containers of fireworks, estimated to weigh almost 200 tonnes and containing around 50 tonnes of raw explosives, were tracked by safety officers after they entered the country through Felixstowe port.

AN undercover operation by trading standards has today revealed a massive and potentially lethal stockpile of illegally stored fireworks in Suffolk.

Nine containers of fireworks, estimated to weigh almost 200 tonnes and containing around 50 tonnes of raw explosives, were tracked by safety officers after they entered the country through Felixstowe port.

Safety and fire officers said that if the containers had exploded the result could have been catastrophic.

Trading standards officers at Suffolk County Council were tipped off that the consignment was being illegally stored in the county.


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It is understood when officers visited the storage site – details of which are not being released yet – they discovered all nine containers stacked close together.

Under strict safety laws there should be at least a 110m gap between containers carrying explosives as a safeguard for the public, businesses and residents.

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Because of ongoing investigations and future legal proceedings officers cannot say where the stash was uncovered but they say all the containers of fireworks have now been moved to safe, secure and legal premises outside the county.

Peter Monk, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for public protection, said: "This successful undercover operation prevented what could have been an horrific incident.

"The safety of those living and working in the county is a top priority for us and the work is just part of the large amount of behind the scenes work on fireworks we have been involved in from storage checks to sales in stores.

"The laws are there to protect the public and to prevent this kind of illegal storage and stockpiling taking place. The consequences of an explosion at this site would have been catastrophic for both the business involved and local residents and we'll continue to work with other agencies to keep Suffolk safe."

Divisional Officer Paul Collins from Suffolk fire and rescue service said: "We already strive to highlight the potential perils of fireworks.

"Not only are there inherent hazards associated with explosives but these are greatly increased by incorrect storage.

"Because these fireworks were imported in the manner they were, if they had been involved in fire, the crews attending would have been unaware of the contents of the containers. None of us wants to see a repeat of the tragic incident in Cambridgeshire in 1989 where a firefighter was killed by an explosion in a van carrying fireworks."

Suffolk county council's trading standards department carries out sample checks on fireworks imported at Felixstowe. Inspections this year revealed 17 per cent of the fireworks sampled failed.

The main reasons for failing were that burning time of the fuse was too short, the fuse failed, or there were incorrect or misleading instructions.

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