There are fears of what impact oil that has leaked from the stricken cargo ship which ran aground near Colwyn Bay last night may have. The Marine and Coastguard Agency say that "a quantity of marine gas oil has leaked from the vessel." Officers from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s Counter Pollution and Salvage branch are working on plans to remove the fuel from 82-metre long ship as soon as possible.
The Marine and Coastguard Agency said that 'The Carrier' has been holed in three places on the starboard side, but they believe that the port side remains intact, where the fuel tank is located.
There are growing concerns that more of the 40,000 litres of fuel could leak into the sea. People nearby have reported a strong smell of fumes since the vessel ran aground last night.
There was traffic chaos as the A55 remained closed in both directions for the whole morning. North Wales Police eventually reopened the road shortly before 2pm.
Agencies including the Police, Fire and Coastguard held meetings at North Wales Police headquarters to decide a plan of what to do with the tanker. No decisions have yet been made, but a salvage expert is on the way to the scene. ITV Wales' reporter Ian Lang says that one option being considered is to patch up the tanker and float her off. He says they are also looking at what to do with the 40,000 litres of fuel. They're looking at whether it would be possible to get a road tanker to the scene to pump it off. The vessel is loaded with stone, but there is no way to off load that at the jetty.
Environmentalists are growing increasingly worried about the affect any more oil leaked from the tanker could have on wildlife in the area. RSPB Cymru say the area is home to internationally important numbers of birds.
– Patrick Lindley, RSPB Cymru Senior Conservation officer
Liverpool Bay is a Special Protection Area for its wintering sea duck and divers. An estimated 10,000 common scoters have been seen feeding no more than 2km offshore in this area within the last week and we’re worried that the northerly winds forecast for the next few days may push them even closer inshore. As the breeding season approaches, we are also concerned about the impact an oil spill would have on other seabirds who rely on these waters as feeding areas – we will continue to monitor the situation closely.
The seven crew on board the ship which was carrying a cargo of stones had to be airlifted to safety. The dramatic rescue involved two lifeboats and a Royal Navy and RAF helicopter.
The vessel got into difficulties as the Welsh coast was battered by Gale Force Nine winds and five metre swells.
Five of the seamen were rescued by a Royal Navy Sea King rescue helicopter scrambled from RNAS Prestwick but with two remaining crew members still on-board the aircraft developed a problem with its winch-wire.
A second helicopter had to be sent for from RAF Leconfield to collect the remaining crew members and winch-man.
– James Bullock, Exchange Royal Navy Co-pilot
Firstly we had to locate the boat in poor visibility due to the snow. We found it pinned against the embankment of the A55 by the high winds which made the recovery of the remaining crewmen more difficult because of the angle we had to hover at due the turbulent and bumpy conditions.’