Recycling centre closes after workers find human skull in skip

PUBLISHED: 13:40 22 September 2015 | UPDATED: 13:40 22 September 2015

A skull was found at Sutton Barton Recycling Centre.

A skull was found at Sutton Barton Recycling Centre.

(c) Keith Brofsky

The grisly find is the latest in a series of incidents this year in which suspicious or potentially dangerous items have been taken to Devon recycling centres, prompting sites to be temporarily closed.

Workers at Sutton Barton Recycling Centre near Honiton were stunned to discover a human skull in one of its general waste skips.

However, after close examination, it was revealed to have been used for educational purposes.

Following the incident on Thursday (September 17), a reminder is being issued to users of Devon County Council’s (DCC) recycling centres to think about the waste which they are taking to the sites, so as not to waste council and police time.

The centre was closed for a few hours as police had to be called to the site to examine the skull.

The grisly find is the latest in a series of incidents this year in which suspicious or potentially dangerous items have been taken to Devon recycling centres, prompting sites to be temporarily closed.

In June, marine flares were taken to the recycling centre at Punchbowl in Crediton by a member of the public. In the same month, a tank mortar shell was found in a bucket of metal items at Bideford recycling centre. Both sites had to be evacuated and closed for a number of hours while bomb disposal experts removed the items.

Councillor Roger Croad, DCC cabinet member for the environment, said: “We have had a few incidents this year where the centres have had to be closed either due to potentially hazardous items being brought in by members of the public, or items which have caused concern.

“These closures have been avoidable, and have wasted valuable time and resources of the police and bomb disposal teams, as well as that of our own staff.

“Some people may consider something that’s been sat in their loft or garden shed for years as completely harmless, but it’s a question of perception, so we would like to remind people to check and think about what they’re planning to take to the recycling centre.

“Wherever possible, it would help if members of the public could make staff on site aware of anything unusual they may have brought to the site.

“Otherwise it causes unnecessary disruption and inconvenience for other site users and, even more seriously, it can also put site staff at risk of injury. However, flares, fireworks and ammunition should never be brought to our recycling centres.”

For advice on disposing of flares, fireworks or ammunition contact your local police or coastguard station.

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