A 1,640ft exclusion zone has been placed around a salmon farm feed barge, off Skye, because of potentially toxic gasses.
The barge was in use by Faroese company Bakkafrost when in sank in November 2021 during Storm Arwen.
Bakkafrost has told the BBC it has been working on a recovery plan since the sinking, while police say multi-agency discussions have taken place to have the vessel recovered.
The smell is described as rotten eggs, as a consequence of the barge’s submerged cargo degrading.
Don Staniford, of campaign group $camon $cotland, said the barge has lain on the seabed for months, raising the issue on his social media accounts.
Breaking News: potentially lethal toxic gasses leaking from a sunken feed barge at Bakkafrost salmon farm off Portree suspend salvage operation with 24 hour guard & exclusion zone @briggsmarine
Why has the public not been informed of the risks? @ScottishEPA @MairiMcAllan @H_S_E pic.twitter.com/avM09qC0Yp
— Don Staniford (@TheGAAIA) August 30, 2022
“Scottish salmon farming is a toxic industry,” said Mr Staniford
“Cages and feed barges have spread like a malignant cancer around the coasts of the Highlands and Islands.
“With all the mass mortalities on salmon farms and sunken feed barges this is a lethal industry which is dead in the water.”
Oil and gas removed from the vessel
Inspector Ross McCartney, of Portree Police Station, said: “We are aware of a leak of gas from a sunken vessel off Portree Harbour. Multi-agency discussions have taken place and plans are ongoing to safely recover the vessel.
“There is not considered to be any risk to the public as a result of the leak at this time.”
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) said: “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.
“Fuel and oil from the barge were safely removed by December 2021 and pose no further risk to the local water environment.”
She continued: “SEPA continues to work with partners to ensure that the waste feed within the barge is recovered or disposed of in accordance with waste management legislation.”
Barge will be vented
Bakkafrost told the BBC that as part of the salvage operation gas would be vented to reduce any potential risk.
It said: “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 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.”