Update (Jan 7): MSC has claimed it will pay for the full costs of the clean-up and has appointed Ardent Global, renowned for its marine salvage expertise, to coordinate the search at sea in both the Netherlands and Germany.
The company said it “is committed to continue to search the sea for the containers which fell overboard, until the last one is found.” MSC will also ensure the Dutch and German beaches are surveyed until all debris related to the incident has been cleared.
MSC has arranged a clean-up operation and a search across the North Sea after an estimated 270 containers, carrying cargo including chemicals, fell from a container ship in a storm.
The shipping line has deployed specialised vessels equipped with sonar to search for missing cargo at sea and appointed a salvage company to coordinate the retrieval of cargo and beach clean-up operations.
MSC Zoe encountered heavy weather on January 2 while sailing toward Bremerhaven, Germany, and has proceeded to the port for cargo discharge operations.
The containers fell off the 19,000 teu vessel near the German island of Borkum but the tide carried many of them to the south-west.
Debris has washed up on islands off the Dutch north coast including Terschelling, Vlieland and Ameland.
TVs, shoes, bags, chairs, plastic cups and children’s toys were found on Terschelling’s beaches and volunteers had to scoop polystyrene packaging from the dunes.
According to officials, three missing containers carried a toxic powder of organic peroxide. One 25 kg bag of peroxide powder was found on the island of Schiermonnikoog on January 3.
In a statement, the shipping company said: “MSC takes this 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.”