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Press Notice No: Duty 1
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Posted 19:26 GMT


Work continues today to salvage the cargo of the `MSC Napoli. In addition work has begun to clear cargo from beaches. A contractor has now constructed a fence across the main area of Branscombe beach, which became the main scavenging site yesterday.

People invaded East Devon beaches yesterday and today to remove cargo from the containers which had been washed up. They trampled over gardens and verges, and brought large vehicles and roughly constructed stretchers through villages in order to take away cargo ranging from nappies and empty barrels to BMW motorbikes. In addition, containers which held peoples personal possessions were looted and their property discarded on the beach. These activities have caused damage estimated to be 800 % more significant than the damage caused by the incident itself.

The oil tanker `Forth Fisher is now on scene at the site of the MSC Napoli and started to pump the first of the heavy fuel oil from the vessel. Work will continue for the next week to transfer all of the oil from the vessel.

Since the vessel was run aground, there has been a minor leakage of oil from the crack in the port side which has now been stopped. This consisted of used oil and sludge from the engine room. In addition there has been another small leakage of fuel. This was identified and plugged by divers. This provided us with the opportunity to test the effect of spraying dispersants on the oil. The test was successful and the oil sprayed was observed to be dispersing. In addition oil containment booming was deployed to trap the leaking oil.

Each of the tanks on board the ship will be pumped out on a step by step basis. At the same time, cranes will be loaded onto barges in Rotterdam and will arrive at the vessel within a week. The operation to remove the containers will take a number of months. Once this has been completed, the process of removing the ship will begin. The whole operation is likely to take up to a year.

The contractor who has erected the fence across the main area of Branscombe Beach has started to bring in diggers, dumper trucks and cutting equipment. From tomorrow, the area will become a work site and there will be no public access to the beach, with access to the village restricted to residents. This will be rigorously enforced by police and Coastguards.

People who have already acquired items of wreck must by law report it to the Receiver of Wreck. This can be done via a form available on the MCAs website at
ow. In the meantime items should be secured and held until the Receiver of Wreck contacts the legal owner of the property.

Mark Rodaway from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency says:

As the Receiver of Wrecks officer I will be applying the necessary legislation within the Merchant Shipping Act of 1995 to stop repetitions of the dreadful behaviour witnessed yesterday. I am liaising closely with colleagues from Devon and Cornwall Police and the resources required to achieve this are available to me. I hope that members of the public will cooperate with us to allow the important beach clean up operation to move ahead without delay.

Posted By: Joanne Groenenberg

For further details contact:
The Maritime & Coastguard Agency Press Office
023 8032 9401