No long-lasting Branscombe effects after Napoli

THERE will be no long-lasting effects on the environment off Branscombe beach following the departure of MSC Napoli remains on Wednesday.

THERE will be no long-lasting effects on the environment off Branscombe beach following the departure of MSC Napoli remains on Wednesday.

The final piece of the wreck was craned onto the massive 500 tonne barge at 3.36pm last Thursday, overseen by salvage expert Laas Reinigert.

"Apart from the initial oiling of seabirds during the first month or so I've had no reports of any long-lasting effects on the environment at all," said Julian Wardlaw, chairman of the Napoli Environment Group, set up when the ship was first grounded in 2007.

Of the 1,000 oiled birds, mostly guillemots, 60 percent were cleaned and re-released, he said.

"I am confident, having done studies of the water and on the species on the coastline, that damage is negligible."

All containers holding dangerous chemical products were safely removed and, said Mr Wardlaw: "There was no evidence of anything leaking into the environment."

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The Maritime Coastguard Agency met on Wednesday to close the Napoli file after four days of sweeping the seabed for any smaller parts of the ship. Later that day the second barge and revolving crane left the scene.

After the meeting with Hugh Shaw, the Secretary of State's representative in Maritime Salvage and Interventions, Mr Wardlaw said: "I am really pleased with the progress since Napoli first arrived. It was clearly demonstrated that every large piece of the wreck has been taken from the seabed and the seabed will recover as soon as possible naturally."

The National Trust owns Branscombe beach and David Ford, its property manager for South and East Devon, said: "We have been delighted with how the different parties involved have recognised the environmental sensitivity of the site and have made the investment to ensure there is no long term damage to this beautiful piece of coastland.

"The local warden team in Branscombe have been heavily involved with the local community throughout the incident and we look forward to building and strengthening these links into the future."

Local NT area warden Stuart Britton praised the clean-up efforts, but thought prior warning of the intended grounding would have helped prevent the Branscombe 'treasure hunt' fiasco.

"The National Trust could have done with a little more support at the start. We only had three wardens on the ground.

"You do wonder whether the powers that be had adequate warning. They could have given us 24 hours notice of their intention of getting to Portland.

"The whole Napoli incident is unfortunate as it has rocked the coastline around here, but it could have been worse, it could have sunk."

Sidmouth, Sidford Devon County Councillor Stuart Hughes said: "It is excellent news that at long last the whole of the Napoli has departed from our shores and we hope lessons have been learnt and no future incident will be allowed to happen.