An oil platform has been evacuated off the coast of Scotland after a cargo vessel carrying radioactive waste from Scotland to Belgium began drifting towards it.
The ship, named Parida, suffered a blaze in one of her funnels yesterday evening and the crew shut down her engines as they tried to carry out repairs.
She began drifting towards the Beatrice oil platform, operated by Ithaca Energy, which was shut down and evacuated as a precaution.
The 52 people on board were lifted off the platform by rescue helicopter 137 from RAF Lossiemouth and coastguard helicopter 102 from Sumburgh, Shetland Coastguard said.
The Parida is owned by Belgian authorities and was transporting Belgian waste back to Belgium after collecting it from Dounreay nuclear plant in Caithness where it had been reprocessed.
Dounreay said it is the lowest form of waste and had been cemented in 500 litre drums.
A spokesman said: “Everything is still secure. The nature of the cargo is it is safe and the cargo is not damaged. There is no danger to the crew.”
Shetland Coastguard were alerted to the incident, around 20 miles south east of Wick, at about 8pm last night.
The coastguard tasked their emergency towing vessel from Orkney to go to the scene but the Parida’s operators arranged for a commercial tow by the Pacific Champion.
The Parida, which was en route from Scrabster in Caithness to Antwerp in Belgium, has 15 people on board.
A Shetland Coastguard spokesman said: “The coastguard emergency towing vessel from Orkney was tasked to go and prevent the Parida from drifting, but before the coastguard vessel arrived on scene the owners agreed a commercial tow with Pacific Champion.”
There were no reports of any injuries.