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Firefighters join fight against plastic in Thames beach clean – and also pick up some unexpected items

Environment-conscious firefighters took part in a beach clean which saw them pick up several knives and an ancient pipe as well as eighteen sacks of single-use plastic.

More than 30 firefighters, officers and staff members from London Fire Brigade were so concerned about the amount of rubbish in the River Thames that they took part in the beach clean at Gabriel’s Wharf, close to the OXO Tower.

And as well as collecting eighteen sacks of single-use plastic – including plastic drinking straws, baby wipes and plastic drinks bottles – they also found several knives, a seventeenth century pipe and some antlers.

The brigade’s green champion Simon Jakeman said: “The amount of plastic we see in the river is appalling, it’s terrible for wildlife and it can also be harmful to people.

“I’ve seen all manner of debris floating in the water or washed up on the shores, from carrier bags, to toys and shopping trolleys, the scale of the problem is huge.

“I’m so pleased the brigade was able to do its bit to help to clean up the Thames, but more action is needed.”

Members of the brigade’s community safety team were also on hand to offer drowning prevention advice as the event fell within National Drowning Week.

Chris O’Connor, the brigade’s head of community safety, said: “Our advice is for people to take care when near water.

“As well as the dangers of cold water shock and unpredictable currents, it is impossible to see hidden dangers lurking beneath the surface.

“Items dumped into the water can prove lethal if people enter the water as they can snag clothing and make it more difficult to escape or be rescued.

“Sadly, firefighters are regularly called out to rescue people in difficulty in the river, which is why we’re attending the beach clean to raise awareness of just how dangerous it is to try and swim in the Thames.”

It is estimated that around eight million tonnes of plastic enters the world’s oceans each year.

The beach clean event, held on June 19, was organised by recycling and waste management company Bywaters. Staff from Better Bankside also took part.

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