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Council asks public to stay away as ghost ship on Cork coast 'now essentially empty'

Dozens of barrels of oil were removed by helicopter from the MV Alta.

The MV Alta aground in Ballycotton.
The MV Alta aground in Ballycotton.
Image: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision Photography

THE WRECK OF a cargo ship that ran aground in east Cork is now “essentially empty” with access to it now being closed down, according to Cork County Council.

This evening, the council confirmed that an operation today to remove oil and other possible contaminants which had been collected into barrels had been successfully completed.

The cargo ship MV Alta had been drifting at sea since September 2018 but ran aground in Ballycotton, east Cork during Storm Dennis earlier this month.

From the outset, Cork County Council had urged the public to stay away from the potentially dangerous wreck.

In a statement today, the council said that 62 full barrels and 33 empty barrels were airlifted by helicopter from the wreck to a prepared drop off point.

They were subsequently transferred onto a vehicle and removed by an environmental agent. Further precautions have been taken on the ship to prevent residual seepage from pipe systems.

The waste oil will be disposed of by a licenced contractor, and the council has been advised most of it may be disposed for recycling.

It added: “The Council is now closing down the wreck with the removal of the pilot ladder and any other access arrangements to render the wreck inaccessible. The wreck is now essentially empty, having had no cargo, and with any significant documentation and equipment removed.

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.

Focus will now turn to who actually owns the vessel, and counting the cost of handling the wreck. 

Barrister Darren Lehane, an expert in maritime law, told TheJournal.ie earlier this month that if the owner of a wreck came to claim it, they’d have to establish that they owned the ship and then pay all the fees incurred by the Irish authorities in handling the wrecked the ship.

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Sean Murray

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