2 Aug, 2023 @ 09:00
1 min read

Ecologists slam bunkering safety measures as oil spill from refuelling accident reaches Gibraltar shore

ECOLOGISTS have hit out at ship bunkering safety measures as oil washed up on Camp Bay after a refuelling accident in the Bay of Gibraltar.

In a late Monday evening update, the Gibraltar government said ‘the impact of the oil spill has been limited to the area of Camp Bay and Rosia Bay and its immediate vicinity’.

“There have not been any sightings of any free floating streaks of oil moving away from this area, however this is being continuously monitored and may change with the tides,” the government said in a statement.

It said this was confirmed by a drone footage and Spanish helicopter overflight Monday afternoon.

Captain of Gibraltar Port John Ghio suspended operations to put into action its oil spill contingency plan with all the resources at his disposal.

Ghio immediately contacted Spanish authorities across the bay in Algeciras about the accident.

“The incident occurred at approximately 8:22am in the southern part of the Western Anchorage, when a vessel taking bunkers experienced an overflow of its tanks,” the Gibraltar Government said in a statement.

“The quantities of oil are currently unquantified.”

Together with the Department of the Environment, port workers deployed boats to the area on Monday to mop up the oil and assess the damage.

Lifeguards were on alert all day as oil reached Camp Bay on the western shore.

They put up red flags at the popular bathing spot and Little Bay which are close to where the accident occurred and were hit by the oil spill.

Authorities urged bathers ‘to be cautious’ even if yellow flags are flying at their favourite bathing spots.

Port services also warned people using pleasure boats and fishing fans who might be in their own boats or on the shore.

Authorities said they would continue their work overnight ‘in a limited manner’ and start ‘in earnest’ Tuesday morning.

Spanish pressure group Verdemar Ecologistas en Accion blamed the spill on the lack of safety measures for ship bunkering.

“If the gas station ship had not cut off the supply, the situation would have been a real disaster,” it said in a statement.

It comes just four days after a barge carried away the remains of the OS 35 shipwreck.

During its 11-month stay on Gibraltar’s eastern side, 700m from popular Catalan Bay it spilled large amounts of oil into the sea.

Salvage crews and wreck removers were finally able to refloat and take away the two battered sections of the shipwreck on Friday.


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