There is concern in Foynes that a partially submerged boat could sink completely, causing diesel and oil to leak into the water.
Locals say the 150-tonne vessel has been docked at the port for more than three years, but in the past week has begun to sink. There was a strong smell of diesel from the water near where the boat is docked at the entrance to the port.
It is now submerged up to the wheelhouse and there are growing fears that if it is not removed, any remaining fuel on board will leak into the water.
Shannon Foynes Port Company has placed a rubber boon around the vessel to prevent any fuel spills spreading into the port.
However one local man who is familiar with the estuary said it was “disgraceful” that the situation had been allowed to develop this far.
“All the oil is gone out of her and gone up the river at this stage,” he said.
“She has been there in the harbour for 1,050 days after being abandoned there,” he added.
It is understood that the vessel is in receivership and that attempts are being made to have it removed.
However, a spokesperson for Foynes Port could not confirm this. “The port company has notified the owner of the issue and has placed a boon around the boat as a precaution,” he said.
Under the 1996 Harbours Act, port authorities have some powers to seize vessels. However sources say this process can be costly and drawn-out.