Cleanup in the North Sea continues following the Jan. 2 incident in which more than 250 containers were washed off the MSC Zoe.
“MSC responded as quickly as possible to the incident and immediately engaged Ardent Global, internationally renown experts in marine salvage and emergency response, to coordinate the search at sea,” the company said Wednesday.
Sonar-assisted search has helped locate hundreds of objects in the water, MSC said, adding that 21 entire containers have washed ashore so far.
Heavy weather was blamed for the containers washing overboard as the 19,224-TEU MSC Zoe sailed from Sines, Portugal to Bremerhaven, Germany. The ship, one of the largest in MSC’s fleet, was on Voyage FS848W of MSC’s Silk service between the Far East and North Europe when the incident occurred.
MSC said a number of contractors have been deployed for salvage and beach-cleaning operations.
“By deploying 4×4 vehicles, tractors and specialist equipment such as a beach vacuum cleaner, the response operation has achieved significant progress on the Frisian islands of Terschelling, Vlieland, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog, in the Wadden Sea and on the mainland. In total, 1,220 metric tons of debris has been collected,” MSC said.
MSC also thanked local authorities and volunteers in the impacted areas. “The operation has benefited from very significant support from the local authorities and municipalities, including voluntary helps.”
Wednesday’s press release did say cleanup crews face challenges from inclement weather.
“This week a storm is impacting the area being cleaned and unfortunately this will interrupt some operations. Response teams nonetheless remain vigilant and are proactively monitoring for any subsequent recharging of beaches with materials from MSC Zoe as a result of the weather and sea movements,” MSC said.
MSC has taken responsibility for the cleanup. In a statement issued Saturday, the company said it “would like to reassure authorities and members of the public in the Netherlands and Germany that the company will pay the full costs of the cleanup.”
MSC said it was “committed to continue searching the sea for the containers which fell overboard, until the last one is found. MSC will also ensure that the beaches of the Dutch and German coastlines are surveyed until all debris related to this incident has been cleared.”
The shipping line said Wednesday it continues to urge the public to exercise caution when encountering debris on beaches.
“MSC is not giving a detailed account of the cargo on board to the general public at this time, since such matters are often confidential between the shipping line and its customers,” the company said in a statement last Friday. “However, in relation to some reports from authorities about dangerous cargo, we would like to inform the public that we are not aware at this time of any public injury from the cargo in MSC-carried containers spilled overboard.”
The Associated Press had reported that Dutch authorities were warning the public to stay away from the containers as some carried toxic and flammable chemicals.