2020 Oct 28

Container Incident in Bristol Channel

HM Coastguard continues to monitor an incident involving shipping containers adrift in the Bristol Channel which were lost from a container ship on 20th October.  Of the 11 which were initially reported, six were empty and five contained non-hazardous cargoes.  Some may have sunk as not all have been seen during vessel and aircraft searches.

Also actively involved are the Maritime & Coastguard Agency's counter pollution team, Trinity House, the ship's insurers and a number of commercial contractors, including chartered vessels engaged in searching and recovery. Relevant authorities have been informed and are being regularly updated. The MCA's specialist fixed wing aircraft has been conducting overflights of the area, to assist in the tracking of containers still adrift. This morning a vessel managed to secure a tow to one of the containers in difficult weather conditions. Local shipping alerts are being issued by HM Coastguard to advise other vessel traffic in the area and contingency arrangements are under way for container recovery with salvage contractors.

At around 11.30am on 26 October, HM Coastguard had a report that a container was on the shore at Bucks Mills, north Devon.  The authorities including Devon and Cornwall Police have been notified and Bideford Coastguard Rescue Team was sent to the scene to escort the salvage contractors. Torridge District Council and local volunteers have been working along the coast between Bucks Mill and Northam Burrows to clear up any debris which has moved with the tides.

A container was towed to Lynmouth  on 27th October and another container was located on 28th October on the beach at Aberthaw Power Station, near Breaksea Point. Contractors remain on-site working at that location.

One further container is currently located to the south-east of Porthcawl, in shallow waters close to the shore.

Janet Williams, Environmental Health & Community Safety Manager, Torridge District Council said "The Council is committed to protecting our beautiful coastline and we immediately instigated our emergency response procedures - the Public should be assured that this matter is in hand. There may be local disruption to access and parking at Bucks Mill while the clean-up works are being carried out, but access to the SW coastal path will be maintained. We remain in contact with the MCA regarding any further groundings in our district and we really appreciate the public's understanding in this matter."

Members of public are urged to keep well clear of containers washed up ashore for their own safety and should be aware that contractors are carrying out work at the locations noted above.


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