Over €200k already spent on works to 'ghost ship' since it landed on Cork coast in February

The MV Alta was washed onto rocks by the force of Storm Dennis about three miles west of Ballycotton on February 15
Over €200k already spent on works to 'ghost ship' since it landed on Cork coast in February

Customs officers inspecting the cargo ship MV Alta on rocks near the village of Ballycotton, Co Cork. Picture: Oisín Keniry

Works on the 'ghost ship' the MV Alta which washed onto the shores of east Cork last February have already cost Cork County Council more than €200,000.

The local authority admitted that while efforts continue to find the owner of the vessel, "the removal of any potentially hazardous or polluting cargo from the vessel and works and inspections to date have cost in excess of €200,000."

That figure could rise with the changing of the seasons and the expectation of more storms over the coming winter.

Asked whether or not additional safety measures would have to be put in place in relation to the 80m freighter, a County Council spokesperson said: "Assessments of the vessel itself and any risks posed by it are still in train and will inform discussion between government agencies as to required interventions."

In August, experts were asked to examine the MV Alta for any potential risks to the environment.

The vessel was washed onto rocks by the force of Storm Dennis about three miles west of Ballycotton on February 15.

In October 2018, the US Coast Guard had rescued 10 crew members from the stricken vessel thousands off kilometres off the coast of Bermuda.

What happened then is unclear, but in August 2019, the British Navy's HMS Protector came across the MV Alta as it was drifting across the Atlantic. The 44-year-old cargo vessel was then driven onto the rocks of the Co Cork coastline in February.

Work is still continuing on identifying an owner for the vessel, with the receiver of wreck the primary body seeking to establish ownership.

According to Cork County Council: "Although some initial contacts were made with a possible owner, there has been no confirmation and no acceptance of responsibility to date."

It's understood that the Revenue Commissioners has up to a year after the vessel landed onto Irish shores to locate an owner.

On its discovery, a major clean-up operation was conducted involving the removal of 80 barrels of oil and other potential pollutants, but the bills associated with the wreck could continue to build.

It has been suggested that a full salvage operation could cost anything from €5m to €10m.

Also, despite efforts to secure the vessel and warnings not to do so, people have been able to board it from the shore at low-tide.

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