Potentially toxic gas leaks from sunken salmon feed barge near Scottish coast

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Authorities have imposed an exclusion zone around a sunken salmon feed barge off the coast of the Scottish Isle of Skye over concerns about potentially toxic gases.

The vessel was used by the Faroese salmon farming company Bakkafrost when it sank near Portree harbour last November during Storm Arwen, with the company woking on a recovery plan since the incident.

The 500m exclusion zone was imposed as a precaution, with Police Scotland stating that it was aware of the gas leak but did not know where it presented a risk to the public.

“On November 27 2021, SEPA was informed by The Scottish Salmon Company that the feed barge for their Loch Portree sites had sunk the previous day during a storm. A multi-agency group was set up in response involving SEPA, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Marine Scotland, Highland Council, and other organisations,” the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) said. The agency confirmed that fuel and oil had already been removed from the barge and there was no risk to the local water environment.

“All relevant authorities are being kept informed of progress on the recovery operation and we will continue to work together with experts to ensure a safe conclusion to the operation,” Bakkafrost stated.

“Bakkafrost is fully committed to ensuring public safety in relation to all of its operations, vessels and equipment and we are addressing the removal of any gas as a priority,” the company added.

“An exclusion zone is in place to protect the public from any potential health risk and Marine Scotland officials will continue to liaise with partner organisations to help ensure risks to both the public and the environment are identified and addressed,” Marine Scotland said.