6 Apr, 2023 @ 16:41
1 min read

Workers clean up three Gibraltar beaches stained by fuel oil leak after beached ship breaks in two

Cleaning Work Gib Beach Os 35

CLEAN-UP crews have already started to comb Gibraltar’s Catalan Bay, Sandy Bay and Little Bay for oil stains and tarballs caused by the break-up of the OS 35.

Captain of the Port John Ghio said Thursday that the bottom of the bulk carrier’s hull had finally separated into two parts during Wednesday’s Levante storm. It was the only part of the ship still keeping the hull together.

He believes that fuel oil trapped in the pipes in the keel of the ship caused the latest spill as the ship broke, releasing them into the sea which waves then washed onto beaches.

Forecasters expect the heavy weather to continue until next week, increasing the chance of further oil spills.

“Further escapes of oil cannot be ruled out, as it is impossible to know potential quantities and locations of remaining trapped oil and residues,” the Gibraltar Government said in a statement.

The strong waves will also make it impossible for port crews to return the protective booms to their position around the ship.

Dive teams will investigate the damage and try to stem any more oil flow as soon as the weather clears up.

Authorities closed off Catalan Bay, Sandy Bay and Little Bay to start the clean up. Eastern Beach was not affected by the latest spill.

Reports suggest that the oil on the beaches was a maximum of 1 to 2 inches thick, making it easier for Department of the Environment and contracted workers to clean it up.

The Port Authority said that it was impossible to access the fuel oil pipelines as salvage crews had closed them off to empty the the main tank.

This was why the oil was still vulnerable to spilling out when the keel finally broke during the latest storm.

But even though the ship had moved, there were no indications it was moving much closer to the shore.

The Captain of the Port has fully briefed Spanish authorities during the latest accidental spill.

Workers will continue to work through the Easter holidays to remove all oil from the beaches.

Once the weather has calmed down completely, they will be able to further comb the seas for oil patches and clean stained rocks in the coastal area.


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