A cargo ship that collided with a natural gas tanker earlier this week off Gibraltar has “crumpled” and is leaking a “significant” amount of oil on Thursday, according to authorities, who said efforts were underway to save the ship.
A “major incident” was declared in Gibraltar on Wednesday after the cargo ship OS 35 collided with a liquefied natural gas carrier the day before, according to the government.
The freighter, which carries 215 tons of heavy fuel oil, 250 tons of diesel oil and 27 tons of lubricating oil, was beached to avoid sinking in the Bay of Gibraltar. All 30 people on board, including 24 crew members and 6 surveyors, were evacuated.
Gibraltar’s government said Thursday that the oil leak is “significant” but that the oil is lighter than in other cases and should be easier to clean up if it washes up on shore.
“Today’s analysis shows that although this is a significant leak, the consistency of the low sulfur fuel oil is lighter than during other incidents in the Bay and this means it should be easier to dissipate and clean up if part from fuel, oil reaches our shores,” the government said in a press release.
Most of the diesel is expected to be pumped out by Friday morning, according to the government statement.
Earlier in the day, the Gibraltar Port Authority (GPA) confirmed that there was an oil leak that escaped from the perimeter of a boom installed in the wake of the accident.
“The shipboard salvage team identified the source of this leak as two vents in the ship’s fuel tanks. All vents had been previously sealed, but the seal on two vents was loosened by crumpling the canister,” the GPA said in a statement.
The statement said divers on scene were able to reset the seals and the GPA was in the process of stopping the release of oil from the vents. Authorities collected free-floating oil that had already been vented, while booms were deployed to soak up the oil.
On Wednesday night, the government said there were indications that the cargo ship “had not broken up as such, but had collapsed,” and that the “first concern” was the discharge of low-carbon heavy fuel oil. sulfur it was transporting as soon as possible. ., followed by diesel and lubricating oil.
The government added that “there has been no way to remove the fuels in question from the vessel before in a way that does not pose a risk to the environment.”
Greenpeace told CNN it is concerned as the incident area is a highly contaminated area due to the volume of passing ships.
Greenpeace activist Francisco del Pozo, who is monitoring the situation, told CNN that “as things stand, there is no major oil spill.”
According to the Gibraltarian authorities, it will be about 50 hours of pumping with the operation carried out “under the strictest supervision to try to avoid any spill”.
Additional oil spill teams are expected to arrive in Gibraltar from the UK on Sunday, according to the statement.
The Gibraltar government said the timeline for salvaging the hull of the cargo ship OS 35 is likely to be longer than the previous expectation of a few weeks.
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