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PRESS RELEASE – OS 35 Update – Coastal clean up progresses well

07 Apr 2023

PRESS RELEASE – OS 35 Update – Coastal clean up progresses well Image
The Captain of the Port has updated the OS 35 Recovery Coordination Group on the situation as the coastal clean up progresses. The Captain of the Port was able to confirm that the wreck’s hull was observed to be shifting yesterday mid-morning. By 3pm the storm was at its peak, with high tide reaching at 4pm. This extreme waxing and waning led to the final separation of the bilge keel. It will be recalled that after the last spate of winter storms, the bilge keel was the only very tenuous remaining connection between the wreck’s two otherwise entirely separate parts.
It is the working hypothesis that the oil escape was fuel oil trapped in the pipeline that connected fuel tank 1 with the engine compartment. The fuel remaining in this pipeline at the time of the vessel’s initial sinking was impossible to recover and the valves to this pipeline were closed off in the initial stages of the recovery operation to secure the pipeline and in order for the fuel to be pumped out of tank 1. All recoverable oil was removed from the wreck at this stage.
There have been no further reports of oil escape after that of yesterday afternoon, further evidencing that this oil was the unrecoverable fuel from this pipeline. However, 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 situation is being constantly monitored by the Gibraltar Port Authority and the Department of Environment.
The heavy weather at sea is expected to continue through until next week and it is therefore unlikely that it will be possible to replace the boom in this time. Salvage teams will take advantage of any lull in the weather to deploy dive teams to investigate the damage and implement oil mitigation measures as far as possible.
The Department of Environment have advised that Eastern Beach appears to be free of oil, whilst Catalan Bay, Sandy Bay and Little Bay are temporarily closed in order to allow the clean up operation to progress as quickly as possible. The cleaning of the coastline is progressing well, in coordination with the contractors and Oil Spill Response Limited.
The Captain of the Port fully briefed the Spanish authorities yesterday as the situation developed, and both parties continue to work in close coordination.
The situation will be constantly monitored, with teams working throughout the holidays on monitoring and coastal clean up operations.
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