PRESS RELEASE - OS 35 Update – GPA concentrates all resources on tackling sheening
20 Sep 2022
OS 35 Update – GPA works to mitigate impact of fuel escape
The Gibraltar Port Authority is working to mitigate as far as possible the impact of oil in BGTW, following an escape of previously trapped low sulphur fuel oil from the OS 35.
The oil had, unfortunately, moved away from the vessel before the weather had subsided enough to allow for the redeployment of the boom that had previously surrounded it and was removed over the weekend. An operation to redeploy the boom to surround the OS 35 is now underway.
The oil that has escaped represents quantities onboard that were unpumpable, as well as residues from the dirty fuel tanks. Unfortunately, its release into BGTW was inevitable and expected.
The Gibraltar Port Authority, together with its partner agencies including the Department of the Environment and in close cooperation with its counterparts in Spain, has focused all resources on cleanup operations both from land and on the sea.
Marinas within the Gibraltar harbour have been closed with booms as a precaution. Booms have also been deployed in J-formation to the east side and within the bay.
The Department of Environment have advised against swimming at Camp Bay and Little Bay. Beach cleanup teams have been mobilised to both locations.
All fishing activity should be suspended until further notice.
OS 35 Update – GPA concentrates all resources on tackling sheening
The Salvor’s operation, approved by the Gibraltar Port Authority, to lower the aft of vessel went as planned. As of Saturday morning, the OS 35 is secure on the sandy sea bed, putting it in the best position to withstand adverse weather conditions and for recovery operations going forward.
The boom around the vessel was removed as planned. The current swell action around the vessel means that replacing the boom is not possible at present. Its redeployment is under constant review so that it may be replaced at the earliest safe opportunity.
The GPA monitored the situation around the OS 35 continuously over the long weekend. As had been expected, some light sheening from residual fuel was experienced on Sunday and Monday, as well as the release of very minor debris. Most of the sheening was broken up by the weather, and to further minimise any impact the GPA deployed assets and will ramp up the response as the swell subsides.
Although it remains light, sheening is more extensive this morning. The GPA has deployed additional vessels to begin tackling this and has stopped all Port operations that involve launches in order to concentrate all available resources on clean-up operations.
At the request of the Captain of the Port of Gibraltar, the Deputy Captain of the Port of Algeciras has deployed assets to the area of Europa Point, to tackle any sheen that is moving towards the bay. At present, there is no free-floating thick oil seeping from the vessel or in its immediate area.
Currently, no beaches are impacted by oiling. The Department of the Environment, together with OSRL, continue to conduct daily shoreline assessments with a view to mobilising clean-up operations as soon as may be necessary.