An operation to pump 3500 tonnes of fuel from the tanks of a cargo ship beached off the southern British coast is due to get underway today. Experts are waiting for a support vessel to arrive alongside the stricken MSC Napoli off Branscombe Beach in Devon. Meanwhile hundreds of people have made off with valuable goods from around 40 containers which have drifted onshore. The haul has included top of the range motorbikes, bibles, nappies, shoes, pet food, and face cream.
Failure to report recovered items within 28 days is a crime, but with such a haul on offer, people here are willing to take the chance that the real owners will not come asking for their goods back. But Receiver of Wrecks Louise Exelby has warned that keeping scavenged items is against the law:
“Failure to report to the Receiver of Wrecks is a criminal offence, its effectively theft, if you’re taking somebody else’s property without their permission then that is theft.”
The Napoli has already lost waste oil which has drifted along the coast, a UNESCO world heritage site. Salvage teams say the operation to pump out the remaining fuel will take several days because the heavy fuel needs to be heated up before can be removed.