Published: Fri, January 04, 2019
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

Hazardous container cleanup continues on Frisian coast

Hazardous container cleanup continues on Frisian coast

A walk on the beach with a difference - dozens of volunteers rushed to a beach on Ameland in the West Frisian Islands off the Netherlands, after material lost from a container ship started washing ashore.

The country's Coast Guard said up to 270 containers had fallen off the huge Panamanian-flagged vessel and warned ships in the area to keep a lookout for floating containers.

Officials were anxious about three containers carrying toxic substances, including one with bags of peroxide powder, one of which washed ashore on the island of Schiermonnikoog.

So far, around 20 containers have been located near the shores of these islands while another six were found in German waters. Some of the containers are thought to have been carrying unsafe chemicals after a 55-pound (25-kilo) bag of organic peroxide washed up ashore.

Dutch soldiers were summoned to help clean up the mess.

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Some beaches on the islands already saw a surge of curious people checking out what washed up.

Scavengers still made off with shoes, dolls and flat-screen TVs, according to local news.

A spokesperson said it was taking the incident "very seriously, both in terms of the impact of such accidents on the natural environment and in terms of any damage to customers' cargo".

The MSC Zoe is one of the largest cargo ships to be used in Europe, holding up to 19,000 containers.

Shipping company MSC issued a statement on Wednesday saying it had appointed a salvage company to coordinate the retrieval of cargo and beach clean-up operations and is also deploying specialised ships equipped with sonar to search for missing cargo at sea. It was built in 2015.

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