Gibraltar rushes to stop oil spill from beached bulk carrier after collision with fuel tanker

There was a “major incident” in Gibraltar on Wednesday after the freighter OS 35 collided with an LNG carrier carrying liquefied natural gas, the government said.

A cargo ship carrying 215 tons of fuel oil, 250 tons of diesel fuel and 27 tons of lubricating oil was washed ashore to prevent it from sinking in the Bay of Gibraltar. All 30 people on board, including 24 crew members and 6 inspectors, were evacuated.

The Gibraltar Port Authority (GPA) confirmed on Thursday that there had been an oil leak, a small amount of which had spilled outside the perimeter of the barrier set up after the accident.

“The rescue team on board identified the source of this leak through two vents from the ship’s bunker tanks. All vents were previously sealed, but the seal on two of the vents loosened when the vessel collapsed,” the GPA said in a statement. statement.

Divers who arrived on site were able to repair the seals, the statement said, and the GPA is stopping the release of oil from the vents. The authorities were collecting free floating oil that had already come out, while sorbent booms were being installed to absorb the oil.

On Wednesday evening, the government said there were indications that the cargo ship “didn’t fall apart as such, but crumpled” and that the “first task” was to unload low-sulphur fuel oil on board as soon as possible. then diesel fuel and lubricating oil.

The government added that “there was no way to remove the fuel in question from the ship earlier without it being a danger to the environment.”

Greenpeace told CNN that it was concerned that the area of ​​the incident was heavily polluted due to the large number of passing ships.

Greenpeace activist Francisco del Pozo, who is monitoring the situation, told CNN that “there is no major oil spill at this time.”

The pumping will take about 50 hours, the Gibraltar authorities said, with the operation being carried out “under the strictest supervision to avoid leakage.”

Additional oil spill response equipment will arrive in Gibraltar from the UK on Sunday, the report said.

The Government of Gibraltar said that the timeline for salvaging the hull of the cargo ship OS 35 is likely to be longer than previously thought, at several weeks.

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