Recovery of 600-tonne River Taw vessel gets under way

Severn Sands The 600-tonne vessel is believed to contain asbestos, tyres, diesel and oil

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A stricken ship carrying oil and chemicals on the River Taw in North Devon is being towed to safety.

The Severn Sands which is believed to contain asbestos, tyres, four tonnes of diesel and oil, and unknown chemicals, slipped its moorings in September.

The 600-tonne vessel is being towed to Instow Jetty, where it will be dismantled.

Councillor Rodney Cann from Devon County Council described the ship as "an environmental time-bomb".

He said: "If these chemicals and oils got into the estuary it could be a major disaster.

He added: "It would hit our local economy, our bird life. We're coming to the winter season now when birds are coming here to feed and so forth, so it's a situation that we cannot afford to allow to happen."

Once towed to safety, the former dredger will be secured near Instow Jetty for about eight weeks, while it is dismantled.

Mr Cann said that hundreds of people had been standing on the riverbank watching the vessel being towed.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency, North Devon Council, Bideford Harbour Authority and the Environment Agency are all involved in the recovery operation.

A 600-tonne vessel carrying abestos, tyres, four tonnes of diesel and oil, and unknown chemicals is being towed to safety.

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