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29th May, 2003

THE ''RMS MULHEIM'' SALVAGE OPERATION COMPLETE



156/03

THE ''RMS MULHEIM'' SALVAGE OPERATION NOW COMPLETE

The ''RMS Mulheim'' went aground in Gamper Bay near Sennen Cove on the morning of the 22 March 2003. Since then over the past eight weeks the Secretary of State''s Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention (SOSREP) Robin Middleton, has overseen the removal of all pollutants and the vast majority of the cargo, which has been conducted by one of the worlds leading salvage teams Wijsmuiler Salvage.

Today, we find ourselves coming to the end of this operation; all that can be removed safely has been removed; as the vessel has been weakening since she grounded. On Monday this week some steel plates were lost from the starboard side of the ship, which has prevented us from removing the last 10 - 15 tonnes of cargo. Despite this the majority of the 2,200 tonnes of cargo has been removed, some has been lost to the sea and has been cleaned from any beaches affected. Clean up of beaches will continue for as long as necessary but we want to stress at the moment pollution is minimal.

The current state of the vessel is such that she has started to break up, as is evident from the starboard side, there are further cracks in the hull which are deteriorating daily and the vessel will continue to break up even under these relatively calm conditions that we are having this week. With any increased swell and wind this process will be accelerated and the vessel will start to collapse and over a period of time will breakdown completely.

Donald McDonald, Regional Operations Manager for Counter Pollution and Salvage, MCA said:

"All items of value have been removed and now the vessel is in a highly unstable condition, and may collapse at any time. It is prohibited to board the vessel."

Today a meeting between the Secretary of State''s Representative, Ship Owners Insurers Representative, Wijsmuiler, Environment Group Representative, Cornwall County Council, Penwith District Council and the land lessee National Trust was held.

Robin Middleton, said this afternoon, at the meeting:

"It has been agreed that all that can be done has been done and the salvage team will be demobilising from the site over the next two days. National Trust are still investigating the need to move the vessel in the protection of public liability"

END

Notes to Editors:

The vessel was wrecked on rocks near Sennen Cove in light winds with a heavy swell from the North East, with moderate visibility and fog patches early in the morning of the 22 March 2003 with six crew on board.

No injuries were sustained at the time of the incident.

The Antigua and Barbuda registered vessel was 1,846 gross registered tonnes and was carrying a cargo of shredded plastics.

During the incident the vessel was holed and leaked diesel fuel, which quickly dispersed.

When wrecked, she was carrying 2,200 tons of shredded plastics from Cork in Ireland to Lubeck in Germany for landfill purposes. A considerable amount had been lost to the sea after fierce winds and seas battered the vessel in the past few weeks after the vessel was holed.

A conveyor belt system was place at the top of the cliff and had been working whilst weather conditions allowed. A team of salvors dug out the remaining cargo from the ship''s hold and filled jumbo-sized bags, which were then removed to the cliff top by the pulley system.

Press releases and further information about the Agency is available on the Web at http://www.mcga.gov.uk

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