Highlands & Islands

Grounded cargo ship Lysblink Seaway leaking diesel oil

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Media captionThe Lysblink Seaways ran aground at full speed

A large cargo ship that ran aground near Ardnamurchan Point in the west Highlands has been leaking diesel oil.

The 394ft-long (120m) Lysblink Seaways got into difficulty at Kilchoan at about 01:50 on Wednesday.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said an absorbent boom has been put in place to deal with the leak from the vessel's starboard side.

A team from a Dutch salvage company has been able to get on board to look for damage to the ship.

Two towing vessels - Forth Jouster and Kingdom of Fife - from Briggs Marine on the Clyde have arrived on the scene to support the salvage operation.

The MCA has put in place a temporary exclusion zone of 328ft (100m) around the vessel.

Diesel oil breaks up and evaporates more easily than crude oil, according to the MCA.

Political row

The Lysblink Seaways was bound from Belfast to Skogn in Norway when it ran aground.

None of the nine-person crew was injured.

The incident has led to a call from the Scottish government for the UK government to extend funding for an emergency tug beyond March next year.

The provision of the vessel has been the subject of a long running political row.

For 10 years, two tugs were hired by the MCA to go to the aid of stricken vessels off Scotland's west and northern coasts.

The UK government moved to end the contracts in late 2011 before agreeing to short extensions until March 2012, and then to longer-term funding for one to tug to work around Scotland's coast as required.

Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead has now called on the UK government to carry out an immediate review of the arrangement.

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