Strong winds at sea have brought efforts to salvage containers from the MSC Zoe on the sea floor to a virtual standstill in recent days.
Translation by Traci White
The Leeuwarder Courant reports that salvage vessels will not be able to get to work on Monday as windy weather and wintry showers continue to move through the region. Rijkswaterstaat (The Public Works & Water Management department) will re-evaluate the forecast on Monday evening to see when the clean-up operation can resume in earnest.
Several larger ships are either underway to the area or have already arrived that will be helping with the salvage efforts. The Atlantic Tonjer, a multi-purpose offshore vehicle, sailed to the Eems port area on Saturday, and another ship is moored in the harbour until the weather improves. Following stormy conditions last week, there was another code yellow weather alert in the north due to gale force winds on Sunday.
The debris from the containers has also forced seal rescue centers to change the location where they release seals back into the wild. On Saturday, the Pieterburen centre release ten seals at Callantsoog in North Holland instead of Groningen or Friesland. The decision was made not only for the animals, but also for spectators: the seal releases are a popular event with people on other nearby boats coming to watch, and Pieterburen was concerned that the ships could be damaged by debris in the Wadden waters.
Pieterburen is one of the groups working together with the University of Groningen to map out the locations where plastic particles are showing up in the Wadden region. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic granules in particular post an ecological threat to the region. Marine ecologist Tjisse van der Heide told Omrop Fryslân that the size of the granules is around 4 millimeters, and algae and bacteria that develop on them will make them more attractive to fish and birds in the region. The plastic will not biodegrade but will continue trickling further down the food chain.