Big clean-up on Dutch shores

Pretoria News Weekend - - METRO - | dpa

DUTCH sol­diers were help­ing with a huge clean-up op­er­a­tion yes­ter­day af­ter spilt con­tain­ers from one of the world’s big­gest cargo ships started to wash ashore.

More than 20 con­tain­ers have washed up on Dutch shores, the coastguard said. About a dozen more have been sighted drift­ing off the coast.

In to­tal, 277 con­tain­ers top­pled into the North Sea from the cargo ship MSC Zoe ear­lier this week, and most have not yet been lo­cated.

About 100 Dutch sol­diers ar­rived early yes­ter­day to help clear the beaches of de­bris on the is­land of Schier­mon­nikoog, where a se­cond sack of per­ox­ide pow­der – a pow­er­ful chem­i­cal which can be used as a bleach­ing agent – washed up dur­ing the night.

The sol­diers are ex­pected to be in the area for at least two days.

The beaches and coast­line of the Frisian Is­lands have be­come lit­tered with con­tainer con­tents. Up to three of the con­tain­ers in Dutch wa­ters are car­ry­ing dan­ger­ous chem­i­cals.

The Dutch En­vi­ron­ment Min­istry said that the Swiss ship­ping com­pany MSC should bear the costs of the clean-up and any dam­ages. The op­er­a­tion is ex­pected to take weeks.

TV sets were among the first items to land on the Ger­man coast yes­ter­day.

“The first tele­vi­sions washed up to­day,” said lo­cal Green politi­cian Meta Janssen-kucz, adding that it was the con­tain­ers trans­port­ing chem­i­cals that were of most con­cern.

Po­lice con­firmed that about 30 TV sets and other house­hold items had been found on the beach.

About 10 con­tain­ers have been sighted in Ger­man wa­ters. Ger­man marine au­thor­i­ties cited MSC as say­ing that one con­tained per­ox­ide, while an­other con­tained lithium bat­ter­ies.

With the scale of the clean-up be­com­ing clearer, calls to equip trans­port con­tain­ers with track­ing de­vices are grow­ing louder.

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