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Mystery wax clumps wash up on Rügen beach

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Mystery wax clumps wash up on Rügen beach
One of the clumps washing up on the island. Photo: DPA
16:43 CEST+02:00
White clumps of paraffin the size of tennis balls are washing up on the beaches a Baltic island in the second mysterious pollutant spill to hit the Baltic Sea island within a month.

A clean-up operation is underway on Rügen off Germany's north coast after clumps of paraffin began washing up along a ten kilometre stretch of beach, according to the Central German Command for Maritime emergencies in Cuxhaven.

The fire service and members of the state-run catastrophe response team Techniches Hilfswerk (THW) have been working the eastern coastline over the weekend, shovelling the white, waxy paraffin clumps into plastic bags.

Paraffin, a petroleum product used to make cosmetics and candles, is transported in liquid form in tanker ships. It is not poisonous unless eaten.

It does not mix with sand or water and has formed clumps the size of tennis balls on hitting the water. It is these white clumps which have now washed up on the beach.

But authorities do not know where the spill came from.

Teams are scouring the sea from the air, searching for more of the petroleum product which may be washed up on shore in the next few days.

Click here for pictures of the clean-up

One beach has already been closed to the public.

The spill comes just two weeks after the end of an operation to clean up an oil slick in the same area. Teams collected over 75 cubic metres of mixed oil and sand from Rügen's coast.

As of Monday authorities still had no leads as to where either spill originated.

Environment Minister Till Backhaus indicated on Sunday that many ship captains illegally clean their tanks at open sea to cut down on costs.

Maritime police said they were looking into around 150 ships which could have been responsible for the spills. 

SEE ALSO: Did Germany contribute to Paris smog?

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