Cork county council to remove oil drums from grounded ghost ship

Source: Greennews.ie

February 24th, 2020

Cork County Council is preparing to remove
materials from a grounded ghost ship that could pose a pollution risk by helicopter
on Tuesday.

The council is preparing to airlift
barrels of machine oil from the abandoned cargo ship stranded on rocks near
Ballycotton in east Cork as part of its pollution mitigation efforts.

It has said that the operation to reduce
the risk of an oil spill from the ghost ship was ongoing during the weekend and
that a helicopter is going to be used to facilitate the process.

The 77m long ship known as MV Alta was
abandoned since September 2018 and was drifting across the Atlantic until it
was grounded in Ballycotton during Storm Denis. The US Coast Guard had rescued
the ship’s 10 crew members from the Atlantic Ocean in 2018.

The Council had previously said that very
little diesel was left in the vessel’s fuel tanks and that its environmental
scientists are satisfied that there is no visible pollution within the
Ballycotton Bay Special Area of Conservation (SAC) or nearby Natural Heritage
Areas.

Following further investigation, the local authority discovered barrels of machine oil and diesel stowed in various parts of the MV Alta. A marine contractor has now boarded the ship to bring barrels onto the deck to facilitate their safe removal, according to the Council.

Barrels are delivered onto the ship to be filled and removed by helicopter on Tuesday, subject to weather conditions. Photo: Cork County Council.

Kevin Morey, the Council’s engineer, said
that it is hoped that the operation to airlift the barrels would start on
Tuesday morning given the weather conditions remain favourable.

“Cork County Council’s marine
contractor is progressing well with preparations for the removal of the oil and
other materials identified which could pose a pollution risk in the event of
their spillage,” Mr Morey said.

Ballycotton Bay is a
special protected area
and home to endangered bird species
including Ringland Plovers, Teals and Lapwings. The Bay’s wetland habitats have
also been identified of conservation significance for non-breeding waterbirds.

It forms part of a European network of
nature areas protected under EU law to ensure the preservation of a wide range
of rare, endangered or endemic animal and plant species.

The Council has repeatedly urged members
of the public to stay away from the wreck location, however, heavy traffic
toward Ballycotton was reported during the weekend with social media users in
Cork posting photos of the ghost ship.

The latest major oil
spill in Ireland dates back to 2009
when
1,000 tonnes of oil spilt from two Russian naval vessels in the waters off the
west of Cork. According to The Irish Times, some 522 tonnes of fuel oil
leaked in three distinct slicks 39 miles south of the Old Head of Kinsale.

Oil drops are often so small that they are not visible in the water to prompt an immediate clean-up response, silently causing substantial damage to marine life. In 2017, 672,000 gallons of oil spilt through a fractured pipeline below the ocean’s surface in the Gulf of Mexico, with no trace of it visible in the water.

About the Author

Shamim Malekmian

Shamim is a Senior Reporter at The Green News and a contributing writer to the Irish Examiner, Cork Evening Echo and the Dublin Inquirer.

The post Cork county council to remove oil drums from grounded ghost ship appeared first on Green News Ireland.

https://greennews.ie/ghost-ship-cork-oil/