AUTHORITIES are urging people stay away from Gibraltar’s Eastside beaches after violent storms broke up the OS 35 shipwreck further, tragically blackening local beaches.
Captain of Gibraltar Port John Ghio said the storms had ‘separated further’ the two battered sections of the hull. of the beached bulk carrier.
“As a result of the adverse weather conditions at sea, the OS 35 has shifted slightly from its position,” Ghio told the government, in a statement.
Only the bottom of the ship, called the keel, had been holding the ship together after previous storms.
Now, this too was breaking apart, and with it the pipes connecting Fuel Tank 1 to the engine room, the government said.
“Some oil residue can be seen to be escaping from the ship and it is expected that this is coming from the keel duct that contained the pipes,” it added.
Salvage crews had removed all possible oil from the stricken ship last year.
Regular beachgoers raised the alarm at local beaches including Sandy Bay where lines of oil marked the shoreline.
Port workers removed the protective booms around the ship that were stopping any escaping oil from reaching beaches after weather forecasters warned about the incoming storm.
“The boom would not have been effective in these weather conditions,” the government explained.
“It would have likely been torn apart and would have only added to further risk of secondary contamination,” it said.
The booms can only be put back in place when the storm has passed.
Marine environment action group The Nautilus Project tweeted that ‘Sandy Bay is completely covered in thick oil slick, oil stench and sand covered in thick tar’.
The government said the lack of booms to stop the leak was why more oil was spilling onto Gibraltar beaches.
For this reason, the government advised people ‘to avoid beaches on the Eastside until further notice’.
Port and Department of Environment workers will now try to fish out the tarballs and oil from the sea as soon as possible.
The OS 35 sunk 700 metres from Catalan Bay on August 29 after hitting another ship as it left the Bay of Gibraltar.
The collision created a ten metre gash on one side of the ship which later spread to the other side during some heavy Levante storms this winter.
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