Arabnews24.ca:Friday 27 January 2023 09:55 PM: Take a walk along the north side of the Thames estuary near Tilbury and all seems well - white egrets paddling beside the fields, crumbling forts and pillboxes defending us from past invaders.
But today's threat is already on the beaches. It lay beneath for years.
On closer inspection the crunch below my boots isn't pebbles but breaking glass. This isn't shingle but ground up waste - bottles, pottery, bricks and corroding metals.
It hasn't travelled far as the seashore here was once a landfill site and the stubby cliff exposed as the tide drops reveals exposed seams of waste. What we buried has emerged to haunt us.
Layers of plastic sheeting flap and flake in the breeze, while plastic bubble bath bottles, vintage crisp packets and retro fabrics rise up from the earth.
Rightly, we worry hugely about dropping litter and waste pollution yet here is a wellspring of rubbish spewing more debris into the sea with every storm.
It almost has to be seen to be believed.
On this spot near Tilbury, there are two legacy landfill sites next to each other.
Combined they stretch for hundreds of metres. Dumping began in the Victorian era - one closed in the seventies, the other not until 1991.
There are thought to be at least 1,000 dumps around our coastline and in a recent survey, 26 councils said they had old seaboard rubbish tips they could do longer defend.
'Hazardous chemicals' a hidden risk in the rubbish
It isn't just unsightly but dangerous, says AJ McConnell from the conservation group Thames 21.
"As it starts to come out, it's exposed to the elements. And it starts to break down and make its way into really, really small pieces. And then they call them microplastics.
"It's not just the plastics, it's also the hazardous chemicals. And that can be a really serious issue for wildlife."
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Understanding of these risks has emerged remarkably recently. In the not too distant past we thought it was okay to dump rubbish directly into the sea.
Most of these coastal landfills operated under much more lax environmental regulations and climate change is accelerating erosion, says William Powrie, professor of geotechnical engineering at the University of Southampton.
"We have got sea level rise and increased storminess so the waves are starting to attack things at a higher level," he said.
"So, you know, there's a whole complex of things going on which probably were unpredictable 20, 30 years ago."
Now we know it's harmful but doing anything about it is tough.
The clean-up solutions are either digging the waste up and reburying it somewhere safer or building really tough sea defences.
These are both controversial and really expensive with bills possibly stretching to billions of pounds.
Neither local authorities, central government or the companies who once operated these sites are willing to foot the bill.
Which means coastal rubbish and its toxic components won't be laid to rest any time soon.