Portrait of despair

PUBLISHED: 15:05 15 October 2008 | UPDATED: 11:19 17 June 2010

BRANSCOMBE beach shortly after the disaster

BRANSCOMBE beach shortly after the disaster

DEBRIS! DESOLATION! DESPAIR! They say every picture tells a story and this is the portrait of disaster that was the Napoli. As debris from the stricken MSC Napoli littered Branscombe beach in January 2007, heartbroken villagers viewed the one-time beauty

Needles washed ashore

DEBRIS! DESOLATION! DESPAIR! They say every picture tells a story and this is the portrait of disaster that was the Napoli.

As debris from the stricken MSC Napoli littered Branscombe beach in January 2007, heartbroken villagers viewed the one-time beauty spot.

Almost two years on, and a massive clean-up operation later, the beach appears to have regained its former glory. But residents fear the danger has not gone.

While oil and chemicals no longer threaten the area, residents remain reluctant to walk bare-foot on the beach - and some refuse to take their children there.

Branscombe today - a picture of calm

Unsheathed syringes have been found along the sea front and parishioners believe the water is not as clean as it once was.

Christine Buckrell of Bucknall Close, said there had been a vast improvement, but that it would take time for the beach to return to how as it was before the disaster.

"My grandson went swimming there but had to watch out for needles being washed up. It's a great shame and I think it will take a long time for it to be completely clear.

People who helped clean it have done a good job, but the work isn't done yet."

National Trust area warden for East Devon, Stuart Pritton, believes the beach is cleaner than ever.

He said: "We want people to come and enjoy the beach - there aren't any serious health risks. If anything, the beach is cleaner than ever before.

"There were some small items of a medical nature that had been washed up and we were obviously concerned. But the clean up operation by DRS demolition has scoured the beach. The syringes we did find, in dribs and drabs, were all sheathed - none were used."

He added that the water was also clean and encouraged residents to enjoy the beach.

He said: "I would say to people come and feel free to use the beach.

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