EPC-UK Defence and Logistics provides a total solution for the supply, handling, storing, testing and disposal of explosives. Our highly trained technical team is expert in its field and has the skill to handle specific hazardous materials safely and compliantly – and it was this expertise which first attracted the Maritime & Coastguard Agency to EPC-UK as a potential partner in the disposal of Time Expired Pyrotechnics (TEPs) found around the UK coastline.
Guarding the coast
EPC-UK has now worked alongside the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) and HM Coastguard since 2013, safely collecting, storing, transporting and disposing of flares and TEPs that have been located by MCA employees or handed in by members of the public.
Our extremely skilled and knowledgeable Explosives Technicians support the MCA at 18 coastguard sites around the country, including remote locations such as the highlands of Scotland and the Isles of Scilly. Each of these sites features a secure store and whenever a flare or TEP is added to the store, its details are inputted into an online manifest. When a store reaches 70 percent capacity, an automated email is sent directly to EPC-UK – this is called triggering. At this stage, our explosives technicians respond and collect the TEP within an agreed stipulated time frame.
The flares or TEPs are thoroughly assessed on site at the Coastguard station and if deemed suitable for travel, are packaged and transported to EPC-UK’s Bramble Island site in Essex for disposal. Once at Bramble Island, the flares and TEPs are disposed of at our specifically designed, highly secure explosive burning ground.
Any TEPs which are considered not suitable for transport are safely segregated, whilst our technicians work closely with the Coastguard to arrange for the safe and secure disposal of the TEP at a local location.
Safety beside the sea
In addition to ensuring the safe removal of flares and TEPs from HM Coastguard sites across the UK, our team also performs general maintenance on the stores. This consistent monitoring and preservation ensure stores are secure and fortified, providing protection and reassurance to both HM Coastguard employees and the surrounding area.
“Safety is at the very core of EPC-UK culture,” explains Carl Newton, Logistics and Defense Manager. “We understand the concerns of local residents and HM Coastguard employees with regards to unexploded TEPs and flares. Our role is to not only safely remove these devices, but to also provide reassurance that every possible precaution is being implemented to maintain the highest levels of safety. Our regular monitoring of site stores is just one of the measures we have in place with the MCA to safeguard and protect.”
Coast to coast support
Our work with the MCA does not stop once our technicians have left site. Behind the scenes, our team assists the MCA with their licensing requirements, working closely with the Health & Safety Executive to renew and relicense Coastguard sites with the correct legal certifications.
We also manage a dedicated helpline, which gives all HM Coastguard employees direct access to our team’s expertise and knowledge should they have any problems or queries or require technical assistance. In addition, we produce comprehensive monthly performance reports which are compiled by our contact coordinators, each of whom hold the Prince2® project management qualification.
Safeguarding through training
“Extending our remit beyond onsite assistance means we can provide more in-depth support to the MCA. We have a 365° view of its operations which enables us to offer practical advice and guidance on procedures, whilst also providing them with access to industry-leading expertise,” continues Carl. “However, ensuring HM Coastguard employees have the correct knowledge to handle unexploded TEPs and flares in the interim period between them being discovered and disposed of, is also extremely important.
“Providing correct training is key to safeguarding employees. Our Operational Response to Pyrotechnics course is endorsed by the Institute of Explosive Engineers and is provided periodically across all MCA sites as and when required. By disseminating our knowledge, we are ensuring the safety of everyone involved in the removal of TEPs and flares, from discovery to disposal,” concludes Carl.