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04 Sep 2022

PRESS RELEASE - OS 35 UPDATE - 4/9/22 Image

OS 35 – Evening update

The Gibraltar Contingency Council convened virtually again this evening  in order to discuss developments throughout the afternoon and plans for tomorrow’s operations. The Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, the Governor  Vice Admiral Sir David Steel, the Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Garcia and the Minister for the Port Vijay Daryanani attended.
The Captain of the Port advised that the situation overall remains  positive, whilst salvors work round the clock to remove fuel and strip the vessel of its contents.

Pumping operations to remove fuel are progressing well and the  pumping of lube oil has commenced. Pumping continues for now also from the forward Tank 1. More detail on the total amounts pumped from  the various tanks aboard the vessel will be provided tomorrow during the course of the day as these are reconciled with records from aboard  the vessel and other sources.
The Captain of the Port therefore expects to be in a better position to  provide more accurate figures over the coming days. Nevertheless, the  figures already reported provide confidence that the operations to  extract fuel from the OS 35 are progressing positively.

Operations have also commenced, in parallel to oil pumping operations,  to clear the OS 35 of any potential additional future contaminants  including chemicals, paint and soft furnishings, in preparation for any  bad weather that may be experienced in the coming weeks which could  lead to any such contaminants escaping the vessel and any booms set  up around it.
Salvage teams are going section by section and locker to locker to  remove as much of the vessel’s contents as possible whilst weather conditions are favourable.
It is important that salvage teams take advantage of every available  minute of the good weather for this and thereby avoid as much contamination as possible if the weather turns.

The secondary boom is in place and is proving effective at containing  most of the sheen that escapes the first boom. Some seepage from the  secondary boom is inevitable and to be expected. Booms are not  hermetic and can never fully contain polluting contaminants within them, although they greatly ameliorate contamination and pollution.
Reports from Salvamento Maritimo overflights indicate that the bay is  clear of oiling or freefloating sheening. The situation on the east side  with regards to free floating sheen and oil has also improved  significantly, although there continue to be some patches in the area.
The catamaran Horizon is proving very effective at skimming free- floating sheen and will be operational 24/7. Unfortunately, it has an  onboard malfunction and will need to return to port for some hours to repair.
One J formation boom will continue to remain on site on the eastside  overnight, guided by infrared cameras to collate and contain sheening from the secondary boom.
There is no indication of new arrival of oil on the shoreline.

Today’s cleanup of the shoreline, organised by the Department of the  Environment in conjunction with local NGOs and volunteers, was  successful in removing some of the oily patches on Gibraltar’s beaches.
Patches of thick oil have been found at Gorham’s Cave. These will be  assessed tomorrow by specialist staff from OSRL.
The Department of the Environment report the presence of some oily material on northern end of Rosia Bay that will be tackled.

The situation in the engine room is stable and under control.
Dive teams located the leak to cargo hold 5 and believe that they have  successfully patched it. This will add buoyancy to the aft of the ship.

As part of the ongoing efforts to clear the vessel of its contents, the  salvage team identified that its hydraulic liquid store was contained in  the vessel’s focsle.
This section, being at the front of the vessel, was flooded during the  arly stages of the incident.This likely therefore explains the sighting of  green liquid emanating from the front of the vessel in the first days of the incident.

The GSLA this afternoon closed the Montagu Bathing Pavilion due to the discovery of light sheen on the surface of the water.
The Captain of the Port has advised that this is unlikely to be sheen  escaping from the OS 35 directly. Instead, it is likely to be sheen coming off service craft that are berthed there and are involved in response operations.
AquaGib reports that their water intake inlets at Waterport are free of  oil.

The Minister for Civil Contingencies Samantha Sacramento has published Emergency Regulations under the Civil Contingencies Act 2007 that  provide the Royal Gibraltar Police, HM Customs, Port Officers and the  Environmental Protection & Research Unit with enforcement powers over the 500m exclusion zone around the vessel.

An overnight update will next be published at 8:00am.

The Gibraltar Contingency Council will next convene at 12 noon  tomorrow, or earlier if required.


OS 35 – Afternoon Update

The Gibraltar Contingency Council convened at noon today via video link  to receive a situational update from the Captain of the Port. The Chief  Minister Fabian Picardo, the Governor Vice Admiral Sir David Steel, the Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Garcia and Minister for  the Port Vijay Daryanani attended.
The Captain of the Port advised that the situation is currently stable in  general.

Investigations into the cause of water ingress into the vessel’s engine  room confirm that a manhole had not been totally sealed. The stress on  the hull caused the keel duct to flood and water then seeped into the manhole and then the engine room.
This has now been sealed and there is no longer a need for continuous  pumping of water out of the engine room, although some minor ingress  continues to drip in.
Control has been re-established over the engine room.

Water continues to be pumped out of cargo hold 5.
Divers are actively working to patch the leak as this would provide added buoyancy to the vessel.

Work is ongoing to remove the vessel’s inventory of potential  contaminants in preparation for a bad weather scenario. This includes  the removal of chemicals, food, loose items etc in addition to the ongoing operation to remove the vessel’s fuel.

A total of 41,000 litres of fuel and water has been removed from tank 1  centre starboard. Pumping continues to remove fuel from tank 1 centre starboard, and will then move on to tank 1 starboard.
The operation will thereafter move very slowly and carefully to begin to  pump fuel out of tank 1 centre port and tank 1 port. The expectation is  that both of these parts of tank 1 will contain very small amounts of fuel.
It is suspected that all parts of tank 1 have been compromised with  water to a certain degree. This means that salvors should be able to  draw out any fuel within because of water accumulations inside pushing the fuel up towards the vents.

Once the tests, pumping checks and operations on tank 1 are complete,  an operation will revisit tank 2 to attempt to eliminate any remaining  fuel that was previously un-reachable until the maximum amount of fuel  residue is removed to the extent that it is possible.
This will be a very slow process but is essential to ensure that the  maximum possible amount of fuel is removed from tank 2.

Work is ongoing to tackle free-floating sheen using a combination of  sorbent booms and skimmers.
The drum skimmer has removed at least 5000 litres of fuel from inside  boom 1 since last night, and continues to tackle fuel concentrations on  the side of the hull.
A second skimmer yesterday collected an additional 12,000 litres of fuel  from within boom 1. This also remains on site and continues to skim  further concentrations from the side of the hull.
The catamaran is making its way to the east side after re-provisioning  and will be operational imminently.
Whilst tidal conditions can be expected to change through the day, there  are currently no indications of further free floating sheen at Europa Point spreading West.

Daily checks of all water intake inlets are being conducted by dive  teams.
There are currently no indications of any oil at any of AquaGib’s water  intake inlets.
AquaGib are also closely monitoring salt water collection points at  Beefsteak Reservoir, where there is no indication of oil.

Teams of volunteers, local NGOs and the Department of the Environment will today continue landside cleanup operations.
Some oily patches have been found at Gorham’s Cave.
There are reports of some Gulls and Mediterranean Shags soiled with oil  but none have yet been discovered in distress for now.
The Gibraltar Contingency Council will re-convene via video link at  7:30pm this evening, or sooner if required.

The amounts of fuel / oily water recovered will henceforth be recorded in litres, for ease of understanding.
1 cubic metre is 1000 litres.


OS 35 - Beaches Update

The Ministry of Environment is regularly assessing the impact of OS 35’s  situation on Gibraltar’s shorelines and beaches. The latest update is as  follows:

Shoreline/Beaches Assessment:
Eastern beach - No oil reported.
Camp Bay - No new oil reported.
Catalan Bay - Some sheen within booms. No heavy oil on beach.
Little Bay - Red Flag. Very slight and small sheen patch due to previously soiled rocks.

Important Update:
Sandy Bay: Red Flag. Some oil is being reported inside the beach area  as the high tide has taken sheen over the boom.

The Ministry of Environment will continue to coordinate cleaning  operations throughout the day with the GPA. ESG, Nautilus Project and  GONHS volunteers will assist clean-up operations.


OS 35 – Overnight Update

Overnight the situation onboard the OS 35 vessel has remained stable.  Continuous pumping out of fuel from Tank 1 Centre Starboard has taken  place until the early hours of the morning.
Although the vessel is unable to operate its own machinery, the situation in the engine room has remained stable overnight.
Continuous monitoring has been in place throughout the night including  drone and land based thermal imagining.
Following an assessment by the Ministry of Environment of Gibraltar’s  beaches, a Red Flag has been recommended only at Little Bay for now.
HMGoG will continue to inform the public on any updates throughout the  course of the morning and the Gibraltar Contingency Council will convene virtually at 12pm.

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Thank you!