Thursday, July 18, 2019
Around 360 litres of oil have been extracted from the ocean off Port Elizabeth as authorities successfully managed to contain an oil spill which occurred when a cargo vessel was being refuelled in Port of Ngqura, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has revealed.
SAMSA – which is conducting an investigation to establish why up to 400 litres of oil had spilled into the ocean off Port Elizabeth early of the morning of the 6th of July while bunkering services company, SA Marine Fuels, was refuelling the MV Chrysanthi S – also indicated that the vessel’s owner had been found liable for the tragedy.
“It appears that the oil spill occurred after one of the fuel tank valves was not properly closed, leading to a vast amount of fuel accidentally spilling out onto the vessel and into the sea. At the time, the vessel had been supplied with as much as 1 300 metric tons of fuel,” says Bongi Stofile, SAMSA’s Regional Manager.
She says the owners of the vessel, Golden Flower Navigation Incorporated, had “accepted liability for the oil spillage and made the necessary undertakings in compliance with relevant South African laws and regulations as well international conventions related to incidents of the nature”.
MV Chrysanthi S, which had been detained while the investigation was conducted, left Port Elizabeth on Friday, 12 July 2019, after the detention was lifted.
SAMSA, however, noted that while the quick reaction and close collaboration of various organisations and parties – Department of Environmental Affairs; TNPA; SA Marine Fuels; oil spillage management services company Extreme Projects and wildlife and environmental groupings Sanparks and SANCCOB – had ensured that the oil had not reached the coastline and that damage was contained, it had impacted on marine wildlife, particularly sea birds and penguins.
By yesterday, 90 African penguins, nine penguin chicks, three penguin eggs, 12 Cape gannets and five Cape cormorants had been rescued and were being cleaned.
“It is deeply regrettable that, despite all our efforts, marine wildlife and especially endangered wildlife such as the African penguin were harmed. SAMSA is working closely with Sanparks and SANCCOB to ensure that all affected wildlife are treated and that there is no permanent damage to them,” says Stofile.
Stofile hailed the collaboration and quick response which had ensured that the oil spill was minimised.
“A joint operations committee involving various stakeholders greatly assisted in steering management of the oil spill containment and extraction, rescue and clean-up of affected wildlife, regular inspections of the affected oceans environment for traces of oil spread, as well as settlement of costs responsibilities related to damage suffered and operations activated,” indicates Stofile.
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