Disposal of Time Expired Pyrotechnics


New System for the Disposal of Time Expired Pyrotechnics 

Now for the past few years a single question has recurred; what am I supposed to do with the old ones?

Following the introduction of new health and safety rules restricting the storage and transport of flares, or Time Expired Pyrotechnics (TEP), no-one seemed terribly keen to handle them any more and this led to many of us filling up our shed with the wretched things until we had something equating to weapons of mass destruction stockpiled. We were just left hoping that Dr Hans Blix didn't start snooping around.


The RYA has been trying for a number of years to resolve this problem. Together with the RNLI and MCA, we have raised the issue through the UK SAR operators group to the Government Interdepartmental Group ( chaired by DfT) to try and sort out the problem in the absence of the manufacturer/ distributor implementing a workable solution.

Regrettably, there is nothing to compel manufacturers/distributors to implement a disposal route. They are unwilling to amortise the disposal costs in the purchase price because there is no level regulatory playing field.

This means they will inevitably be paying to dispose of TEP made by other manufacturers who do not charge for disposal at the point of sale, such as mail order or the internet from China. They also know that by and large we will shop around for the cheapest supply.

It is further regrettable that marina operators take a similar view: Because the industry has refused to play the game and because the Government seems powerless to compel them to do so, the MCA has been instructed to set up a disposal system for private recreational boaters only.

The MCA has set up disposal points at MRCC facilities that comply with H&SE legislation and can store TEP, it has contracted the collection and disposal of TEP to a firm called Ramora.

So the system that is available at present  and for the foreseeable future is not wholly adequate, but is a good as it can be given the regulatory inadequacies that we operate in. Nevertheless TEP remains firmly on our agenda.

The RYA advises those who wish to carry flares or are compelled to do so, to buy them from suppliers who will take TEP in as part of the deal. More and more are offering this service albeit sometimes at a cost.

MCA Statement

In an official statement, the MCA said:  "The MCA, with the assistance of the Department for Transport, will continue to accept TEPs from the public; however the collection and disposal service will no longer be undertaken by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) with effect from the 31 March 2010 because of their operational pressures.

"Following recent changes of legislation with regard to the storage and transportation of explosives, MCA premises now require to be brought into line with those changes. This will mean that the number of sites which will be able to accept TEPs will be significantly reduced.

"The Agency plan to achieve this by concentrating available resources on 18 sites evenly spaced across the country. Analysis of the quantities of TEPs deposited with the MCA indicate that up to 70% of items find their way to the vicinity of the 18 proposed sites which will accept TEPs."  

The sites are at the following Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres:

From 1st April 2010 if you want to hand over time expired pyrotechnics, like distress flares, to HM Coastguard for safe disposal you must contact your nearest centre to make an appointment.

Please be ready to give details of the type, quantity, age and condition of your time expired ptrotechnics when you call.

Girvan Coastguard Rescue Service (212 miles round trip from Carrick Castle!)
(c/o MRCC Clyde) 01475 729988

Inverness Sector Base (304 miles round trip from Carrick Castle!)
(c/o MRCC Aberdeen) 01224 592334

We have contacted the RYA asking them to find out why we can't dispose of our old flares at MRCC Clyde at Greenock?