As promised by Drogheda Port Company on Monday, work had begun to stabilise the floundering Hebble Sand dredger, which began to take on water and sink in Drogheda Port last week.
The owners of the 60-year-old vessel and crews were on site at Drogheda Port from early on Wednesday morning to carry out remedial work on the ship.
A crane has also been erected to assist them in carrying this out. They will be pumping water out of the boat into IBC’s and will be sending divers down to assess what repair has to be done.
Current Harbour Master Martin Donnelly was in attendance to oversee the operation, with his replacement Laurence Kirwan.
Mr Donnelly is retiring from the position in October.
“From what we understand the damage to the boat is a hole where rudder is attached. Their aim is to refloat the boat, stop it taking in water which should ultimately stop any further oil residue getting into the river,” said Louth TD Fergus O’Dowd, who received information from Louth County Council-Environmental Compliance Section.
“From the port’s investigations, the oil is not a fuel leak but residue oil around engine room and ancillary equipment which is mixing with the river water as tide comes in and out,” said a spokeswoman. “We have been informed that any residual fuel will also be removed”.
The area around the ship was double boomed with oil sorbent booms initially. They have since replaced the booms and added a third boom.
“A number of samples have been taken along the Boyne, preliminary results do not indicate any deoxygenating conditions,” said Deputy O’Dowd. “Additionally, no evidence of impacts on fish and wildlife have been noted however, Inland Fisheries Ireland have been notified”.
The operation is expected to last a number of days and there is no indication as yet if or when the Hebble Sand will be removed.
The vessel has been moored and immobile since 2014.