Published: Sat, January 05, 2019
Life&Culture | By Peggy Hughes

Rubbish and goods wash ashore as 270 containers lost off Dutch coast

Rubbish and goods wash ashore as 270 containers lost off Dutch coast

The group, including German and Dutch tourists, were trying to pick up Styrofoam before it washed back out to sea.

They expect more debris to wash ashore tonight near or on the Dutch islands of Terschelling, Vlieland, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog.

At least three of the containers were thought to contain hazardous chemicals.

Hundreds of containers have washed up on the Dutch coast after a ship lost part of its cargo in heavy seas. German authorities say two of them contained risky substances: organic peroxide in one case and lithium-ion batteries in the other.

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

But the authorities have warned volunteers and locals not to touch any bags but to call police or the fire brigade. "How are we going to clean this up?" an environmentalist on Schiermonnikoog, Cynthia Borras, said.

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Dutch media reported that local treasure hunters had found an array of items from containers whose contents had spilled, including light bulbs, auto parts, Ikea furniture, clothing and toys. "We ask them to remain out of the area of this air space to prevent risky situations".

So far, around 20 containers have been located near the shores of these islands while another six were found in German waters.

MSC 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".

MSC is also deploying specialised ships equipped with sonar to search for missing cargo at sea.

The Mediterranean Shipping Company, which owns the MSC Zoe, contracted with a salvage company to clean up the containers and their contents. The freighter is now at port in Bremerhaven, Germany.

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