Oil removal completed on grounded ‘ghost ship’ in Cork, Ireland

Photo: Cork County Council/Daragh McSweeney

The Cork County Council of County Cork, Ireland, has confirmed that the operation to remove the oil and other possible contaminants from an abandoned cargo vessel that had run aground nearly two weeks prior has finally been completed.

By 17:50 local time on Wednesday, February 26, a total of 62 full barrels and 33 empty barrels were airlifted by helicopter from the Panamanian-flagged cargo vessel Alta to a prepared drop-off area where they were subsequently transferred onto a vehicle and removed by an environmental agent.

As a further precaution, the council has left oil absorbent pads and booms at some locations on board where there could be residual seepage from pipe systems which have been drained.

The waste oil will be disposed of by a licensed contractor. The council has been advised that most of it may be disposed of by recycling for use in bituminous roadmaking materials.

The wreck has since been closed down with the removal of the pilot ladder and any other access arrangements, thus rendering it inaccessible. The vessel is now essentially empty, having had no cargo, and with any significant documentation and equipment removed.

Alta ran aground near Ballycotton on February 16 due to strong winds brought about by Storm Dennis.

Prior to the grounding, Alta had spent over a year adrift in the Atlantic after it was abandoned by its entire crew some 2,000 kilometres off Bermuda in October 2018.


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