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Diver picks up a belt next to a wreck in the Wadden UNESCO world heritage site

Picking up where the government stops..

Out of sight does not mean our garbage magically disappears.. That is true for our garbage on land and even more so for our garbage on the seafloor.

It is more than two years since the MSC ZOE lost 342 containers close to the Wadden UNESCO world heritage site.

Today, approximately 800.000 kg of cargo, coming from around 40 containers, is still missing (including dangerous cargo) out of a total of 3,2 million kg that was lost to the sea.

Recently however it became clear that clean-up activities to remove the containers and their cargo from our Northsea and Wadden sea has come to a halt.

The captain of the MSC ZOE was released from charges even though he made a questionable decision to take the (shallow) southern route along the Wadden area.

The vessel presumably lost containers due to it hitting the seabottom. 

MSC itself has apparently done what it could and therefore is exempted from further clean-up efforts.

Currently shipping companies apparently have a merely "best effort" obligation, rather than a result obligation to clean up their mess.

MSC paid the Dutch state over €3.4 million for the container disaster aside from the investment it had done earlier for salvaging and clearance of the lost cargo.

Luckily various NGO's are making a plan named "Clean up XL" to clean up the remaining cargo that can still be found in the Northsea and Wadden sea.

They will use special equipment (like SONAR and salvaging vessels) and experienced divers to locate and recover as much as they can.

The National Postalcode Lottery has donated 1,9 million euro to support the plan in which we will sail three years for an expedition to get the last trash off the ocean floor.

Here you can find a Dutch article on the website of NGO Stichting de Noordzee.

Note the picture of the belt in the article and the below picture I took in September last year on the bottom of the Wadden sea..

Lastly, prevention is better than cure.. Part of the funds will also go into finding ways of reducing the chances of these disasters from happening again.

Sadly the MSC ZOE is not a unique incident since worldwide many containers are lost overboard yearly in shipping incidents. Recently Maersk Essen lost 750 containers in the Pacific.

Furthermore in November the mega container vessel ONE Apus lost a whopping 1800 containers North-west of Hawaii..! 

In our urge to lower cost and reach efficiency (using transportation at the largest scale possible) we seem to forget that our environment suffers the consequences..

When the predictions of climate change become a reality, we will get increasingly violent storms as well, which could lead to more accidents like this.

I am looking forward to play my part in the upcoming clean-up projects to keep emphasiszing the impact of container losses like the MSC ZOE disaster..!

Please find a portfolio of images of earlier clean-up efforts by clicking on this link.

joostvanuffelen's picture
About the Author:
Joost loves the oceans, travelling and (underwater)photography. Combining those three elements he creates ocean art, travel reports and ocean photo stories...


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