By Humphrey Carter
THE 17 tonne tank of nitrogen which has been floating precariously in Balearic waters off Dragonera since last Wednesday, was yesterday found by an Italian fishing trawler.

The trawler Eurica came across the tank, which fell off the ferry Lucia B in high seas, just after 10.30 some 30 miles north of the isle of Dragonera, and immediately alerted the coast guard.

The Balearic air sea rescue services was alerted and a helicopter was immediately sent to the scene from Valencia to verify the find and establish what kind of condition the tank was in.

Once located, a rapid salvage vessel raced to the scene to mark the find and monitor the situation until a salvage ship could reach the lost tank.
A heavy salvage ship was at the scene yesterday afternoon, but before any attempts were made to lift the tank out of the water, expert divers have to inspect the tank to establish what condition the container is in and the nitrogen inside.

The nitrogen is not toxic, although the salvage team have been advised against any direct contact with the gas.
The rescue operation was however working against the clock with bad weather forecast today.
Salvage experts said that the weather should not hamper attempts to lift the tank out of the sea, but the weather will very much determine to which port the cargo will be taken by the salvage vessel.

On Friday, experts at the Balearic University warned that the tank, if left in the sea for too long, could pose a serious danger to shipping, especially at night as the tank has no lighting or warning facilities.

There was also concern about what effects the nitrogen would have on the marine environment if it started to leak.
University experts have been tracking the tank using the “Oilmap” programme which was used to monitor the Prestige oil spill of Northern Spain.
The Balearic university are currently adapting the programme to search for local shipwrecks and experts calculated that the tank was 35.2 miles of Dragonera, so they were not far out.


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