An Angus environmental campaigner has taken on the might of the US Navy after “rancid” waste washed up on a local beach.
Foul-smelling containers of rotting food littered a four-mile stretch of the shoreline between Carnoustie and East Haven.
And Wendy Murray of Angus Clean Environments blames US warships for the disgusting debris.
The waste washed up around the time of the Great Angus Beach Clean in May 2021.
Wendy spent months trying to get to the source of the dumping.
And it was an unopened tin of American food which provided the possible link to Exercise Strike Warrior.
NATO and US ships were berthed off Angus during that time.
Wendy now wants to see tighter rules around marine dumping from military vessels involved in peace-time wargames
Large canisters landed in Angus
She said: “During the last week in May these large canisters of rancid food waste started to wash ashore at Carnoustie and East Haven.
“Within a week, there were 14 in total containing meat, vegetables and rice.
“Wooden pallets and cans containing a hot roll yeast mix were also washed up.”
“Initially I thought a rogue trader had thrown it into the sea and it had somehow found its way to the Angus coast.”
But one of the sealed tins led Wendy to the potential source.
She said: “In all, ten sealed food canisters were washed ashore and two of them were still wrapped in a label from the producer, Mountain Maid.
“This product enables rolls to be made in an environment where it’s difficult to obtain fresh bread supplies.”
She discovered North Carolina-based Mountain Maid supplies US Defence Logistics Agency Troop Support.
“We felt there was significant circumstantial evidence to link the waste which washed up in Angus to the vessels which had been berthed off the coast earlier that month,” said Wendy.
And in mid-May, ships from US Exercise Ragnar Viking met up with vessels involved Strike Warrior and exercised together in the North Sea off Angus.
No formal investigation
But ACE struggled to get others on board to track down those responsible.
“I contacted the statutory agencies but neither SEPA, Scottish Water nor Angus Council had any responsibility to investigate the incident,” said Wendy.
So she followed up the discovery with the Scottish Government and Royal Navy Command.
Wendy added: “The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) states no waste should be discharged into the sea from vessels less than 12 miles from land.
“But the rules don’t apply to warships – although they would be aware of them and there is a hope they’ll comply with the spirit of MARPOL.”
Royal Navy Command said: “It is not feasible to ascertain whether the MARPOL rules are always adhered to by every vessel.
“It is possible, in this particular case, weather conditions such as wind and wave swell resulted in garbage exceptionally washing up on shore.
“The MARPOL regulations are in place to avoid this risk.
“But maritime conditions are unpredictable and waste landing on shore cannot be completely mitigated against.”
‘Need for change’
“I was disgusted this appeared to have been dumped so close to port during a peace-time exercise,” said Wendy.
“And I felt hugely disappointed that it wasn’t properly investigated when ACE raised it.
“It took us months to even get a response.
“So it seems this sort of thing is just part of custom and practice on vessels.
“And that really needs to change.”
The US Navy has been approached for comment but is yet to respond.