A cargo ship collided with a natural gas tanker earlier this week off Gibraltar and an oil spill Thursday “collapsed”, according to authorities who said efforts were underway to rescue the ship.
A “major accident” was announced in Gibraltar on Wednesday after the OS 35 cargo ship collided with a liquefied natural gas tanker the previous day, according to the government.
The cargo ship carrying 215 tons of heavy fuel oil, 250 tons of diesel fuel and 27 tons of lube oil was placed ashore to prevent it from sinking in the Gulf of Gibraltar. All 30 people on board, including 24 crew members and 6 surveyors, were evacuated.
The Gibraltar Port Authority confirmed, on Thursday, the occurrence of an oil spill, a small amount of which leaked from the vicinity of the boom that was erected in the wake of the accident.
The rescue team on board identified the source of this leak to two tank hatches from the ship’s bunker tanks. All hatches were closed before, but the seal of two hatches became loose when the ship was wrinkled.
The statement said divers at the scene were able to reinstall the seals and that the GPA was in the process of stopping oil leakage from the manholes. The authorities were collecting free-floating oil that had already been vented, while sorbent arms were deployed to absorb the oil.
On Wednesday night, the government said there were indications that the cargo ship “did not disintegrate like this, but collapsed,” and that the “first concern” was to unload low-sulfur heavy fuel oil on board as quickly as possible, followed by diesel and lubricants.
The government added that “there was no way to remove the fuel in question from the ship sooner in a way that would not pose a risk to the environment.”
Greenpeace told CNN it was concerned that the area of the accident was heavily contaminated due to the scale of passing ships.
“As it stands, there is no major oil spill,” Francisco del Pozo, a Greenpeace activist who is monitoring the situation, told CNN.
According to Gibraltar authorities, the pumping will take about 50 hours with the process being “strictly supervised to strive to avoid any spillage”.
The statement said that additional oil spill equipment was expected to arrive in Gibraltar from the United Kingdom on Sunday.
The Gibraltar government has said the time frame for salvaging the OS 35 cargo ship’s hull is likely to be a few weeks longer than previous forecasts.
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