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03 Sep 2022

PRESS RELEASE - OS 35 UPDATE - 3/9/22 Image

OS 35 – 9:00pm UPDATE

The Gibraltar Contingency Council, jointly chaired by the Chief Minister  Fabian Picardo and the Governor Vice Admiral David Steel, convened this evening at No 6 Convent Place. Minister for the Port Vijay Daryanani and Minister for Environment John Cortes were also present. The Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Garcia attended via video link.

The operation to deploy a second containment boom around the vessel is ongoing. This is a complex operation and GPA assets are working closely  and inter-operating with Salvamento Maritimo in deploying. The process of establishing this wider, secondary boom will not be finalised today and is ongoing.
A J formation boom will, additionally, continue to operate during the  night hours on the Eastside.

Operations to pump out water from the engine room of the OS 35  commenced early this afternoon and have been largely successful. A  sufficient amount of water has been pumped out of the engine room to stabilise the situation somewhat. The vessel is not, however, able to  operate using its own power.
Divers are working to identify the source of the leak into the engine  room.
There is currently a degree of control over the amount of ingress into the engine room but this is not an ideal situation by any measure.
A degree of deterioration in the structure around the engine room as a  result of the leak can reasonably be expected and the degree of water  ingress could realistically increase at any time.
The vessel’s own machinery therefore remains currently out of use.

Given the circumstances that have arisen in respect of the flooding of  the engine room, water has been also pumped out of Cargo Hold 5 to  add to the buoyancy of the aft section of the vessel in an attempt to mitigate the impact of the leak on the structural integrity of the vessel.

The vessel’s forward No Tank 1 is split into 4 distinct parts. They are  Port, Centre Port, Starboard and Centre Starboard.
Very slow extraction has successfully begun from Tank 1 Centre  Starboard. Initial assessments suggest that this tank suffers from a  minor rapture that is letting water into this tank. The extraction from  this tank therefore needs to be done by relying on the pressure of the  water entering the tank pushing the oil upwards toward and through the  tank vent. This is a slow process that is managed carefully in order not to increase the amount of water that is mixed in with the fuel when  extracted.
Operations to start the extraction from Tank 1 Centre Starboard were  authorised by the Captain of the Port and commenced at approximately  5.00pm. By 7:00pm, 12 cubic metres of mixed oil and water had been  extracted from this part of Tank 1.
It is estimated that there are approximately 80 tonnes of heavy fuel oil  in this Tank 1 Centre Starboard.
The removal of fuel from Tank 1 Centre Starboard will continue  throughout the night.
The quantities of heavy fuel oil in the other distinct parts of Tank 1 are  different and may be as low as zero in some of them. An assessment of  these quantities is ongoing. The largest quantity is, however, believed to be the quantity in Tank 1 Centre Starboard, which is the one being  emptied now.
Extraction is happening through the relevant tank vent on the  submerged deck of the vessel.

A Drum Skimmer has recovered a further 600 litres of low sulphur fuel  oil from the vicinity of OS 35.
Skimming operations will continue tomorrow.
An asset has today been contracted by the GPA and has been deployed  since mid-morning (contracted in from a commercial operator based in  the Port of Algeciras) that will be able to conduct brush skimming of  some of the free floating sheen.
The catamaran launch en route from Cadiz has had to shelter in the Port  of Tarifa due to wind conditions this afternoon. It is expected to be  operational on mission on the eastside tomorrow morning.

The Captain of the Port has issued a new LOCAL NOTICE TO MARINERS providing for an extension to the exclusion zone around the OS 35,  increased to 500m around the vessel.
This arises as a result of the layered containment approach in order to  protect the integrity of the second boom. The Notice is designed to allow the navigational room necessary for salvage and pollution prevention  and control operations, security and to secure safety of navigation,  especially at night, as the secondary boom is not independently  illuminated.

A new boom has been deployed at the entrance to Sandy Bay.
Beach clean-up works continue work at Sandy Bay (raking) and Little  Bay (focus on cleaning rocks and pebbles).
The Environmental Research and Protection Unit’s latest assessment is  that there is no significant increase in soiled birds.

The Gibraltar Contingency Council will reconvene at 12:00pm tomorrow,  or earlier if required.

An update on developments overnight will be issued during the course of  the early morning.


OS 35 – Afternoon Update

The Chief Minster Fabian Picardo and the Governor Vice Admiral Sir  David Steel chaired a meeting of the Gibraltar Contingency Council at  noon today, attended also by the Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Garcia,  Minister for the Port Vijay Daryanani and Minister for Environment John  Cortes.

There is now water ingress in the OS 35’s engine room.
This means that the vessel’s own systems cannot presently safely be  used to pump fuel out. Salvors will instead need to rely on independent,  off-ship systems at this stage.
Dive teams are investigating the source of water ingress into the engine  room.
Work is underway to clear away any non-essential materials that could  potentially add to the levels of contamination.
Latest reports suggest that the water ingress may be coming under  control.

The salvage teams continue the operation to remove fuel from Tank 2.
Whilst the majority of fuel has already been successfully removed, the  operation has been substantially slowed by this latest development and  residual quantities of fuel are being removed now.

The Captain of the Port is deploying addition levels of layered  containment around the OS 35. This involves an ongoing operation to deploy 1km of boom surrounding the vessel. This boom is being deployed by Salvamento Maritimo at the request of the Captain of the Port by the Pollution Control Vessel ‘Clara Campoamor’.
Further booming operations will continue around the OS 35 and  elsewhere in the vicinity of the vessel and any areas which require  additional protection as soon as operationally possible.
The key priority in preparation for the operation for the extraction of  heavy fuel oil from Tank 1 of the OS 35 is to have successful layered  containment to the highest possible level around the ship.
The aim of this operational tasking is to seek to avoid the release of as  much free floating oil as possible and uncontrolled seepage into open  water to the maximum possible extent.
Once this is further booming established to the satisfaction of the  Captain of the Port, it will allow the salvors to proceed with the work to  remove as much fuel as cleanly as safely possible from Tank 1 of the  vessel.

The current advice is that whilst salvors expect to be able to remove fuel from the vessel, the vessels fuel tanks will remain dirty. This means that  there will be residual quantities of fuel in the tanks and, as a result (given the crumpled state of parts of the hull of the ship) almost entirely unavoidable continued seepage of small quantities of polluting materials  from the OS 35 for the period that it remains in situ.
The deployment of booms in layers around the vessel will prevent to the highest possible level the amount of seepage into open water but they  will NOT provide a watertight layer of containment, which it is not technologically possible to provide
In this respect, it should be noted that all options for the salvage  operation are sub-optimal in terms of the absolute control of pollution.
The aim of layered containment is to limit the seepage as much as  possible. It can however not be realistically expected that there will not  be some seepage outside the booms into surrounding open water, despite the best possible strategy of layered containment.
The advice is that this is the unfortunate but unavoidable situation  arising from this incident. This situation will therefore now continue for  the rest of the summer and until the salvage operation is completed.

Skimming operations are continuous, but have limits to what they can  achieve. Skimming within the boom close to the ship is being successful. The sheen in open water is currently light, which means that it needs to be corralled into denser patches in order to be collected.

To assist in these operations, a purpose built, small catamaran launch  that can operate 24/7 is en route from Cadiz with a double crew and is expected to arrive and be operational today. This vessel is able to skim  any oil that it encounters directly, including light sheen in open water. It  will be directed to areas of sheen identified by the overflights being  conducted to assist the GPA by the Ministry of the Environment and the  helicopter which is deployed by Algeciras Port in support of ongoing  operations.
The GPA are marshalling all available resources that can assist the  operational tasking required by the Captain of the Port in support of the  ongoing salvage and pollution prevention and control operations. The Port of Algeciras continues working in close coordination with the GPA in  order to establish if any of the assets available to them are suitable and  to ascertain timelines for deployment.

The Department of Environment is leading on land-based clean-up  operations and are actively working with volunteers and non-governmental organisations in order to co-ordinate and safely manage the efforts to clean the shoreline.
A shoreline clean is being planned to take place on Sunday in  conjunction with the ESG, GONHS and the Nautilus Project. Those  wishing to volunteer should write to the Department of the Environment on with their name, contact details  and any particular skills or experience which might be relevant.
Any sightings of oiled seabirds should be reported to the EPRU on  58009620.

The Gibraltar Contingency Council will reconvene again this evening at  No 6 Convent Place.



OS 35 - 1:00PM Update

The Captain of the Port has provided an update on the course of the  morning. A meeting of the Gibraltar Contingency Council is ongoing at No6 Convent Place.

AquaGib conducted a diving inspection early this morning at Little Bay,  which confirmed that their salt water intake inlets are unaffected.

A sorbent boom has been deployed to protect Sandy Bay, where there is  evidence of sheening and small amounts of oil on the shore. A clean up  operation to remove it is underway.

Preparations to begin the pumping of fuel from Tank 1 are underway.  Equipment is being brought on board to allow the operation to begin during the course of the afternoon.

The complex operation to deploy approximately 1km of boom around OS 35 in conjunction with Salvamar is ongoing and is expected to take a  number of hours. This operation needs to be complete before the  removal of fuel from tank 1 can begin. This is to provide layered  containment for any seepage that may occur.



OS 35 – Overnight Update

Overnight the situation has remained stable. There has been continuous  pumping of fuel from the OS 35 vessel although at a slightly slower pace than predicted. It is expected that this operation will be completed during the course of the day.

Continuous monitoring has been in place throughout the night including  drone and land based thermal imagining.

An assessment is being made to determine if any oil is leaking from the  submerged tanks.

HMGoG will continue to inform the public on any updates throughout the  course of the morning and the Gibraltar Contingency Council will  convene at 12pm.

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Thank you!