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Holey ship!

Wednesday, 19th February, 2020 5:13pm

The mystery behind who owns the ‘ghost ship’ which washed ashore in Cork during Storm Dennis may be close to being solved.

An individual claiming to represent the owner of the abandoned MV Alta, which ran aground near Ballycotton last Sunday, has come forward and made themselves known to Revenue.

One of Revenue’s statutory roles is the ‘receiver of wrecks’, a function provided for in the Merchant Shipping (Salvage and Wreck) Act 1993.

A statement from a Revenue spokesperson confirmed contact with the individual and said that efforts are now being made to confirm ownership of the vessel, something that may take some time to complete.

The spokesperson also stated that Revenue’s immediate priority is to allow the agencies responsible for pollution protection and maritime traffic to assess and manage any environmental risk or potential hazard to other maritime stakeholders.

On Tuesday morning Cork County Council’s marine contractor boarded the vessel and carried out an initial assessment which concluded that the remaining amount of fuel in the ship’s tanks is quite small.

The fuel tanks are divided into a number of compartments, some of which were inaccessible due to water on board.

Speaking to the Cork Independent, teacher and founder of Clean Coasts Ballynamona, Proinsias Ó Tuama said he was relieved to hear that the vessel was powered by diesel, which he said is less damaging than other fuel types.

“It's good that the boat is apparently powered by diesel as it dissipates more quickly. It's the best case of a bad scenario. It was also fortunate that it seems no goods were on board,” said Mr Ó Tuama.

“The only thing I’d say now is for people to stay away from it because it’s unsteady. There’s a hole in the hull and water is getting in,” he added.

Following the initial assessment of the vessel, County Engineer with Cork County Council, Kevin Morey said that, although early signs are good, there is still potentially dangerous materials on board.

“On a ship of that size there are drums of other kinds of lubricating oil, machine oil, and drums of diesel for generators. There are other tanks and drums on the ship. The next objective is to gather that material, which itself could pose a hazard,” said Mr Morey.

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.

There remains no visible pollution within the Ballycotton Bay Special Protection Area or nearby proposed natural heritage areas.

It is understood that the MV Alta became disabled as it travelled from Greece to Haiti in October 2018, at which point its crew abandoned the vessel.

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