The clean up operation of Holyhead Marina and nearby beaches is making progress with more than 15 tonnes of polystyrene and 2,300 litres of oil recovered

The clean up of Holyhead Marina, which suffered significant damage caused by Storm Emma at the beginning of March, has been making good progress with more than 15 tonnes of polystyrene retrieved.

Beaches on the north-west coast of Anglesey have also been affected by the debris from the marina.

Members of the public and volunteers, co-ordinated by Keep Wales Tidy, Friends of the Anglesey Coastal Path and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), have helped cleaning up the area, concentrating on Penrhyn Bay, Llanfwrog, and Trearddur Bay. Two tonnes of polystyrene has already been collected for disposal.

Holyhead Marina is undergoing a huge clean up operation, with more than 13 tonnes of polystyrene and 2,300 litres of oil recovered from the damaged boats. The number of affected vessels has been estimated to be 85.

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Anglesey Chief Executive, Gwynne Jones, said, “These volunteers as well as local residents have played an important role in beach clean-up so far. We know that people are keen to help, and it is vital that they do this in a safe and responsible manner.

“We are, however, confident that affected beaches are safe for the public. I would encourage members of the public to contact the Council for guidance should they wish to help collect polystyrene from a beach affected by polystyrene.”

There is however an environmental concern as the broken polystyrene is proving difficult to clean up.

The control and coordination group is jointly chaired by Stena Line Ports, who privately own The Holyhead Port Authority, and Anglesey Council.
Stena Line Ports’ Harbourmaster, Kevin Riley said: “We’ve made significant progress since Storm Emma decimated Holyhead marina area on March 2nd. As a port authority, we have focused on containment, recovery and disposal of both oil and polystyrene. We estimated that around 2,300 litres of oil and some 13 tonnes of polystyrene has been recovered from the harbour area to date.”  

Stena Line Ports issued a statement saying: “As the Port Authority for Holyhead, we are working very closely with the Marina and all relevant external agencies to ensure that the Storm Emma clean-up operation progresses as quickly and efficiently as possible.

“As a result of the Initial plastic pollution at Soldiers Quay extending to other areas of the Marina, more booms have been now been deployed to help contain the spread of plastic contamination.  

“The process of removing the polystyrene contaminant by the use of a tanker and craft  is ongoing and will continue until all of the particulates have been safely removed from the Marina.

“A further planning meeting with Marina, Port Authority and different agencies will take place later this week to review the ongoing clean-up operation.”

The commodore of Holyhead Sailing Club, Kim Argyle said at least 20 boats belonging to members had been lost or damaged during Storm Emma, which left a trail of devastation when it battered the marina in north Wales on 2 March. The club lost one of its launches.

“Some of those were members’ homes,” said Argyle. “The tragedy of this, the heartache and the incredible disruption to people’s lives is immeasurable. Our hearts go out to them”.

In a newsletter to club members on 14 March, he said there was now “visible progress” in the recovery process, with some boats being salvaged.

“There are currently personnel on site from the contractors who will be doing this task. There is no information as yet as to how long this will take, but a number of boats have already been lifted from the water. This is in addition to the half dozen or so boats that were just about floating and were removed to safety in the first couple of days,” he said.

Argyle said that the “scale of the disaster in ‘official’ terms is very big”, and thanked the club members and the community for their help and support.

“There has been a fantastic contribution made to the rescue process by a number of our club members, and without naming them, I would like to formally recognise what they have achieved. Also, the practical help and good wishes of the people of Holyhead (and further) has also been fantastic, and the club acknowledges this too”.

The commodore added that with “little prospect of the marina being up and running as we know it”.

Holyhead Sailing Club has already seen an increase in the demand for their moorings, and they are now looking at its visitor mooring numbers in order to “accommodate as many people affected as possible”.

He assured members that the club’s own insurers, GJW have stated that there will be “no issue for boats wanting to use the moorings getting insurance”.

However Argyle added: “The picture with other (insurance) companies is varied – some will, some won’t, some have increased the price and some have put on extra conditions. Best advice is shop around if you have problems,”.

He said that harbour users were hoping Holyhead Marina would be able to reinstate a landing stage, adding that “if this doesn’t happen then rest assured we will work out a solution”.

Argyle added that Caernarfon Harbour Trust was currently refurbishing the club’s moorings, and that the ground chain on four of the club’s trots had been inspected and the club are very happy with it.