Ramora UK, a leading Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) company, is aiming to establish a compliant and sustainable, long term solution for the removal and disposal of out of date distress flares through a crowd funding campaign.
If successful, Ramora UK is looking to establish a nationwide solution with at least 23 permanent static collection sites located across the UK. These would also be supplemented by planned 20+ collection day events (often termed amnesties).
The first sites are planned for the Isle of Wight, together with Hampshire and Dorset. Others will follow soon. £42,500 will provide all necessary costs to cover the establishment of the service on the Island and collections for four years. Every £3,500 raised beyond this will extend the service for one further year. Ramora UK has set a stretch target to provide 10 years of cover after which time it believes alternatives to distress flares should be more effective and widespread.
The risks associated with out of date flares are well known and whilst a number of people will suggest "they are not dangerous" or "are good for longer periods than stated by the manufacturer" the evidence stacks against that view. There are documented cases of professional mariners being injured by flares and several 'accidental' activations have occurred.
The fact remains that all distress flares are classed as explosives and should be handled, stored and disposed of in accordance with the relevant legislation. The increasing incidence of abandoned flares only serves to elevate the risks to those who may come into contact with the items and a managed, compliant and proven solution will have a marked and profound impact on the levels of exposure.
Alongside funding 10% of the solution from its own resources, Ramora UK is delivering all other aspects of the solution on a cost, rather than profit basis, and has gone one step further to guarantee payback to local maritime charities in the event that a particular site is no longer required in the years to come.
David Welch MIExpE, Ramora UK's Managing Director explained that they had decided to look at crowd funding as an option for flare disposal following interest received during a number of flare amnesty events and the overwhelming need for a consistent and legally compliant service to deal with the many thousands of out of date distress flares being held across the country. Equally, the company wanted to avoid the need to charge those accessing the service in order to discourage illegal dumping.
Stuart Carruthers, RYA Cruising Manager commented: "The RYA is acutely aware that many boaters have great difficulty in getting rid of out of date flares. For that reason we urge everyone to think carefully about the alternative means of raising a distress alert and for pinpointing their location. These days there are modern devices that are more reliable, effective and timely and we will continue to seek an end to compulsory carriage requirements where they are applicable. In the meantime the crowd funding solution is an excellent initiative which if well supported will be of benefit to all."
Overarching page giving broad information: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/free-distress-flare-disposal-service
More information on alternatives to flares is available on the RYA website.