Engineers and senior officials from Cork County Council are to inspect an 80-metre cargo vessel, which ran aground during Storm Dennis west of Ballycotton yesterday.

The ship, MV Alta, had been abandoned and adrift in the mid-Atlantic for over a year.

On 3 September last year, the Royal Navy's ice patrol ship, HMS Protector, posted on Twitter that its crew had spotted the ship in the middle of the Atlantic.

The tweet said there was no one on board and the ship looked like it was derelict for some time.

Cork County Council said its Environmental Scientists visited the area today and are satisfied that there is currently no visible pollution within the Ballycotton Bay Special Protection Area or nearby proposed natural heritage areas.

The council said it has consulted with the Coast Guard in terms of pollution risk and the parties have agreed to have an initial assessment of pollution risk carried out.

The council has requested its marine contractor to carry out this initial assessment of the wreck.

Following the assessment, the contractor will board the vessel at the next suitable opportunity, which is expected to be at low tide tomorrow at around 7am.

Any risk in relation to oil, other hazardous substances, and pollution from the vessel will be evaluated.

Consultations are continuing between the Irish Coastguard, Cork County Council, the Receiver of Wrecks and other relevant bodies in relation to the future of the wreck.

The council is asking members of the public to stay away from the wreck location as it is situated on a dangerous and inaccessible stretch of coastline and is in an unstable condition.

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