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Oil leaking container ship might cause environmental catastrophe

Sunday, January 21, 2007

In the United Kingdom, an anti-pollution operation is under way after the stricken ship MSC Napoli started to leak dangerous heavy fuel oil.

The heavy fuel oil that is leaking from the beached Italian ship is extremely dangerous for the environment. Fear of pollution increased after the ship was further damaged during storms last Thursday. MSC Napoli was beached by Devon coastguards after it suffered heavy structual damage in the gale force storms of Thursday, 18 January 2007, that wreaked havoc across Northern Europe. The ship, which contains 160 containers of hazardous chemical substances, is listing at 35 degrees.

The entire 26-man crew was rescued by navy helicopters Thursday after severe gales. Cracks were found on both sides of the ship, but the current oil leak was not expected.

Around 2,400 containers were carried by the 62,000 tonne ship, some of which contain potentially dangerous hazardous chemicals.

The Coastguards have reported that up to 200 of the containers carrying materials such as perfume and battery acid are loose from the ship and they are looking for missing containers. South African stainless steel producer Columbus Stainless confirmed on Friday that there was at least 1,000 tonnes of nickel on board MSC Napoli.

A hole in the ship flooded the engine room and there’s now fears that the ship will break up. Saturday MSC Napoli was towed to Portland when a ”structural failure” forced the salvage team to beach it. As the storms have continued MSC Napoli has been further damaged.

The authorities have warned people about the pollution, which already has reached the beaches at Devon, but many want to see it on their own. Police have closed Branscombe Beach as more than 20 containers have broken up scattering their contents along the beach.

Sky News reported Sunday that the costs of the accident might be very high as thousands of pounds worth of BMW motorbikes, car parts, empty oak barrels and perfume might get lost in flooding containers.

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