No impact on protected nature area from Cork shipwreck, says Council


February 17th, 2020

Cork County Council has said that there are no signs of contamination to the protected Ballycotton Bay as a result of yesterday evening’s wreck of an abandoned cargo ship off East Cork.

The vessel was
abandoned since September 2018 and was drifting across the Atlantic until it
was grounded in Ballycotton during Storm Denis last night. The US Coast Guard
had rescued the ship’s 10 crew members in the Atlantic Ocean in 2018.

The local authority
said today that its environmental scientists visited the site and is satisfied
that there is no visible pollution within the Ballycotton Bay Special Area of
Conservation (SAC) or nearby Natural Heritage Areas.

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 had
said last night that it had convened its oil spill assessment team to evaluate
the situation as part of its contingency plan in response to the grounding of
the cargo ship.

Monitoring of the
situation by the local authority as well as the Irish Coast Guard continues. The
Council’s marine contractor is set to board the vessel for further
contamination assessments, tomorrow morning.

The Council has
warned members of the public to stay away from the wreck location as “it
is on a dangerous and inaccessible stretch of coastline and is on an unstable

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.

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