For Written Answer on : 08/09/2022
Question Number(s): 290 Question Reference(s): 44005/22
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Transport the current situation with respect to the removal of a shipwreck (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.
(Details Supplied) The MV Alta shipwreck, Ballycotton, Co. Cork.
As the Deputy may be aware, the relevant legislation that allows for the removal of abandoned vessels in Irish waters such as that referred to by the Deputy is the Merchant Shipping (Salvage and Wreck) Act 1993.
Section 40 of the Act provides that the Minister for Transport has the “general superintendence” of matters relating to wrecked or stranded vessels. The Act also sets out the responsibilities from an operational perspective for other bodies. Sections 51 and 52 are of note with regard to the duties of the owner and appropriate authorities.
Section 51 places the initial responsibility for removing a wreck on the owner of the vessel. However, if the appropriate authority, in this case Cork County Council, considers the wreck is or is likely to become an obstruction or danger to navigation or a threat of harm to the marine environment, or to related interests, which includes the health of the public, it shall proceed to raise and remove the wreck or otherwise render it harmless.
While the Act does allow for the removal of a wreck, it does not contain provisions in relation to the costs associated with the removal of a wreck where the sale of that wreck is not possible, and the owners of the vessel cannot be located. It is understood that no evidence of ownership or insurance has come to light yet in the case referred to by the Deputy.
My Department has recently commissioned a health and safety assessment of the wreck referred to by the Deputy and work on this assessment has been ongoing over the past number of months. This assessment is due to be received by my Department shortly.
Once the health and safety assessment is received, the findings will be considered by my Department and the report will be shared with the relevant appropriate authorities as outlined in the legislation in order to consider any appropriate actions.