PRESS RELEASE - OS 35 UPDATE - 4/9/22
04 Sep 2022
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.
TOTAL SHIP CLEARANCE OPERATIONS
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.
FREE FLOATING SHEEN
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.
ENGINE ROOM AND CARGO HOLD 5
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.
BATHING PAVILION CLOSED
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.
CIVIL CONTINGENCY ACT AMENDMENT
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.
CARGO HOLD 5
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.
CLEARING POTENTIAL CONTAMINANTS
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.
REMOVAL OF FUEL FROM TANK 1
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.
REMOVING RESIDUAL FUEL FROM TANK 2
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.
FREE FLOATING SHEEN
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.
LANDSIDE CLEANUP EFFORTS CONTINUE
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:
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.
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.