Gibraltar says heavy oil leaking at sea from cargo ship

The government of Gibraltar said a bulk carrier in distress spilled a small amount of heavy fuel oil into the sea, three days after hitting a liquefied gas carrier.

The environmental impact of the spill is not immediately clear, although divers dispatched to the vessel have already sealed two vents in the fuel tanks which were the source of the leak.

What do we know so far?
Companies use bulk carriers to transport hard cargo such as grain, and the leaking fuel is thought to be that used by the ship itself.

The Gibraltar Ports Authority (GPA) said the small amount of oil that escaped passed the perimeter of a boom that had been put in place to contain any oil. Port officials in the tiny British territory at the southern tip of Spain plan to deploy a second barrier to prevent further expansion.

“The priority is to gather and collect the free-floating oil that has escaped from the dam, as well as to remove the oil that has remained contained inside the dam,” the GPA said.

Meanwhile, the authority is stepping up efforts to pump fuel oil, diesel and lube oil from the ship.

Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told Spanish broadcaster TVE on Thursday that the operation to remove some 500 tonnes of fuel from the tanks on board the ship is expected to take around 50 hours using the ship’s own pumps. .

How did the accident unfold?
OS 35 was moving out of Gibraltar Bay when the collision occurred. The liquefied natural gas carrier did not sustain any significant damage.

As the bulk carrier began to sink, it deliberately ran aground in shallower waters east of Gibraltar, some 700 meters from the beach.

Officials said on Wednesday that the bulk carrier’s hull broke apart.

The ship’s 24 sailors were removed from the ship due to the risk that the freighter could break in two. No one was injured during the accident.

The busy port has been largely closed since the crash so officials can focus resources on the emergency.
Sources: AFP, dpa