NINETY-FIVE oil barrels were airlifted by helicopter from the MV Alta ghost ship today in an operation co-ordinated by Cork County Council before the cargo ship was “closed down”.
Among the 95 barrels were 62 full containers and another 33 which were empty. The removed containers were taken to a designated drop-off point where they were transferred to a vehicle and removed by an environmental agent.
As a further precaution, Cork County Council has left oil-absorbent pads and booms at some locations onboard the ship where there could be residual seepage from pipe systems which have been drained.
The waste oil will be disposed of by a licensed contractor and will be recycled for use in bituminous road-making materials.
The MV Alta was shipwrecked on Ballycotton rocks during Storm Dennis after spending a year and a half wandering the seas unmanned.
The cargo ship has a complex and mysterious past that begun on a voyage from Greece to Haiti in 2018.
Ten crew members were rescued by the US coast guard, whisked off the boat ahead of a looming hurricane, and a tug vessel was reportedly contracted to tow the MV Alta to Guyana, but it is not thought to have made it to port.
Six months before washing up in Cork, the ghost ship was spotted off the coast of West Africa.
Cork County Council said it was now closing down the wreck with the removal of the pilot ladder and any other access points, rendering the ship inaccessible.
“The wreck is now essentially empty, having had no cargo, and with any significant documentation and equipment removed,” said a spokesperson.
“Cork County Council continues to ask members of the public to stay away from the wreck location as it is located on a dangerous and inaccessible stretch of coastline, is in an unstable condition and on private property.”
The operation was a joint effort involving a number of organisations and individuals, including marine contractor LCF Marine, An Garda Síochána, and Cork County Council.
The council’s Oil Spill Assessment Team met at 4.30pm to review the material removal operation.
It released a statement thanking all involved, including the landowner who was acknowledged for his “assistance and tolerance”.