An island harbour was left in lockdown yesterday after a suspicious package was reported, forcing evacuations and delays to ships waiting to berth.
Workers on Shetland had to be evacuated from the Sullom Voe Harbour and nearby workshops around 10.30am, as police officers conducted extensive inquiries to establish whether the package possessed substantial risk to the public.
Authorities would not reveal yesterday what the suspicious package was, with local police officers dealing with the incident for around two hours.
Tugs berthed at the harbour were taken away to sea as a precautionary measure, waiting off Ollaberry for the duration of the exclusion period, with a further vessel, the Thornbury tanker, delayed coming into port as a result of the incident.
It is understood the item was delivered yesterday morning before concern was raised by staff at Sullom Voe Terminal’s delivery processing facility after the package sounded the alarm when being scanned.
The emergency services were notified shortly after, locking down the immediate area in order to conduct thorough and extensive checks, before the package was found not to possess any major risk to the public.
A police spokesman said: “Police Scotland was made aware of a potentially suspicious package found in the Sella Ness area in Shetland shortly after 10.30am on Thursday, April 18.
“Following inquiries and examination of the package, it was found to be genuine and pose no risk to the public.
“The immediate area was evacuated as a precaution while emergency services attended the incident. Everyone affected is thanked for their understanding and patience.”
Greg Maitland, harbourmaster of Sullom Voe Harbour Authority, said: “We were alerted that reports of a suspicious package had been received and subsequently evacuated the harbour area and surrounding workshops as a precaution.
“It was a very calm and calculated approach where there was no panic or issues.
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“We remained in VPS contact with the communications room to stop ships coming in and we had a tanker due to come into the terminal at midday, which was delayed for a couple of hours just to be safe.
“We train quite regularly for major incidents and staff were well briefed and performed as they are supposed to.
“We will have a debrief and use this as a learning process to establish things we can do better.”
The Sullom Voe Oil and Gas Terminal, situated in the Sella Ness area, is home to operations carried out by petroleum exploration and production firm EnQuest.
EnQuest was approached for comment yesterday but declined to do so.