Ghost ship latest: Environmental scientists say 'no visible signs' of pollution in Ballycotton Bay

Ghost ship latest: Environmental scientists say 'no visible signs' of pollution in Ballycotton Bay
EE 17/02/2020 NEWS - The MV Alva being battered by waves as it lies on the rocks near Ballyanna, Ballycotton. Picture: Howard Crowdy

Environmental Scientists have visited a 'ghost ship' that became lodged on rocks near Ballycotton during Storm Dennis. 

The 77m-long cargo ship, called Alta, was brought to the attention of the Irish Coast Guard around lunchtime on Sunday by a local who spotted the vessel.

It emerged that the ship had been drifting unmanned in the Atlantic for more than a year.

In a statement, a spokesman for County Hall said this afternoon: "Cork County Council’s Environmental Scientists have visited the area and are satisfied that there is currently no visible pollution within the Ballycotton Bay Special Protection Area or nearby proposed Natural Heritage Areas.

"Cork County Council has consulted with the Coast Guard in terms of pollution risk and the parties have agreed to have an initial assessment of pollution risk carried out. 

The bow section of the MV Alta being battered by waves as it lies on the rocks near Ballyanna, Ballycotton. Picture: Howard Crowdy
The bow section of the MV Alta being battered by waves as it lies on the rocks near Ballyanna, Ballycotton. Picture: Howard Crowdy

"The council has requested its marine contractor to carry out this initial assessment of the wreck. 

"Following an appropriate risk assessment, the contractor will board the vessel at the next suitable opportunity which is expected to be at low tide tomorrow morning (7am). 

"Any risk in relation to oil, other hazardous substances and pollution from the vessel will be evaluated.

"Consultations are continuing between the Irish Coastguard, Cork County Council, the Receiver of Wrecks and other relevant bodies in relation to the future of the wreck."

Cork County Council is again asking members of the public to stay away from the wreck location as it is located on a dangerous and inaccessible stretch of coastline and is in an unstable condition.

County councillor Anthony Barry said he found it incredible that this could happen.

“A ship appears out of nowhere, no one knows anything about it.

"I wish the members would get a report as to how this could be left happen.

“I find it incredible that this was left abandoned at sea for so long. It could have been towed to safety at a much earlier time. 

"I don’t care what bodies are involved now, it is a mess and it is unacceptable.”

EARLIER: Cork County Council is to assess an abandoned cargo ship, which has become stuck on rocks near Ballycotton, for possible oil spills.

"It is located on a dangerous and inaccessible stretch of coastline and is in an unstable condition," Cork County Council said it a statement.

The Council has convened its Oil Spill Assessment Team as part of its Oil Spill Contingency Plan in response to the grounding of a cargo ship in Ballycotton this afternoon.

Picture: Gemma Kelleher
Picture: Gemma Kelleher

"The Council is currently liaising with the Irish Coastguard in relation to the pollution risk and with the Receiver of Wreck in relation to ownership of the vessel which grounded at Ballyandreane, Ballycotton, Co. Cork today," it said in a statement. 

"Cork County Council, which has responsibility for land-based oil pollution risk, is continuing to monitor this ship in relation to any possible oil spillage or risk arising from cargo. 

"The Council understands that the vessel was most likely diesel-fuelled which poses less risk of pollution than heavy fuel oil. 

"The exact risk level cannot be confirmed at this time. The ship will be inspected tomorrow in daylight and from a land vantage point in order to access this further.

"Cork County Council does not believe that this wreck currently poses a risk to the Special Area of Conservation within the Ballymacoda/Ballycotton area." 

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