Sealed containers of oil that pose an environmental threat if spilled discovered on board a ghost ship beached on rocks in Ballycotton may have to be helicoptered off the ship’s top deck.
That's according to Kevin Morey, engineer with Cork County Council, who was speaking following the completed assessments to the grounded MV Alta yesterday.
The 77m-long ghost ship spent 18-months adrift at sea before it ran aground this weekend following Storm Denis.
"We're happy to say that assessment is complete," Mr Morey said.
"They found that there isn't any diesel in the main fuel tanks. There's a small quantity of fuel in around the engine room, which we'll have to pump out to there, but that's not a huge task."
The council has also identified sealed drums of oil and other materials that pose an environmental threat if spilled on board the ship, Mr Morey added.
"We've engaged our contractor to develop a plan for removing that material off the ship to mitigate the risk of water pollution," he said.
"That's our primary concern. And we share that concern with the Coast Guard who also have responsibility for pollution on the water. We continue to liaise on that but we are organising the contractor on that."
A plan is in development. Mr Morey said that the most effective way to remove the material could be via helicopter.
"We're looking at a couple of options, but at the moment that looks like the most likely prospect, and we'll need to get a weather window to do that," he said.
"In the meantime, our contractor will be busy gathering those materials together, bringing them all up to the top deck because these barrels are distributed throughout the ship and that's quite a task."
Mr Morey reiterated the council's warning to members of the public who are trying to approach the wreck.
"This is not a ship berth at a dock. This is a dangerous and unstable structure on a rocky shoreline in a remote location. So stay away," he said.
"If you want to see what the ship looks like go on the internet. You'll see it on TV.
"There's plenty of pictures of the ship out there that can give you a better sense of what's there than trying to go down there and get a vantage point and, certainly, it is not safe to approach the vessel."
Meanwhile, an individual claiming to represent the owner of the MV Alta, which had been last seen six months ago off the African coast, has made contact with Revenue.
Revenue, acting as receiver of the wreck, is responsible for trying to establish ownership of salvage or wreck landed in Ireland.
"The legislation states that a person may establish a claim to ownership within one year from the time the wreck came into the receivers possession," a spokesman said.
"This process may take some time."
Revenue's immediate priority is to allow the relevant agencies to manage any environmental risks, he added.