Algoa Bay clean-up continues as shipowner files to cover costs – SAMSA

Pretoria: 23 November 2021

The monitoring of beaches and islands nearby Algoa Bay for ship fuel spread continues, while an investigation is underway into an oil spillage offshore that occured a week ago while a cargo vessel was taking bunkers, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) reports.

According to SAMSA in a statement in Pretoria on Tuesday, the investigation into the incident – conducted in terms of Section 264 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1951 (preliminary enquiry into shipping casualties) as well as principles outlined in the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Mandatory Casualty Investigation Code’, may take anything up to 30 days to conclude.

However, in the meantime, SAMSA said the registered owner of the Croatia-flagged vessel named MV Solin, April Marine Inc, had already provided a “Letter of Understanding” to cover the costs of the clean-up.

The clean-up, now also involving a handful of wild birds – three Cape Garnets and one African Penguin found so far to have been contaminated – continues, with a service provider appointed to also remove tar balls found in the area and which will be examined to establish their origin and possible association with the oil spillage last week.

At the time of the incident, SAMSA said about about 80 liters of oil made it into sea water while the vessel was being refuelled.

In the statement on Tuesday, said SAMSA: “The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and other stakeholders including the Department of Forestry Fisheries and Environment (DEFF)  continues to monitor and investigate an oil spill that occurred during a vessel bunkering operation on the 17th of November at 13H15 in Algoa Bay.

“To date, a small amount of emulsified heavy fuel oil, commonly known as Tar Balls has washed ashore along the beach between Hougham Park and Sundays River. A service provider has been appointed to remove the tar balls, samples were collected and submitted to SAMSA to determine if the oil is from this incident.  

“To date four (4) birds ( three Cape Garnets and one African Penguin) were found to be contaminated by oil and have been captured and are being cared for by the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB).

“The beaches and islands are being monitored daily when weather permits for any additional oil/tar balls or oiled wildlife. The vessel Insurer is providing a “Letter of Undertaking” to cover the costs of the clean-up operation and the vessel should be released soon,” said SAMSA.

Meanwhile, in relation to another recent ship incident in St Helena Bay off the west coast, involving the foreign vessel known as NS Qingdao, SAMSA reported that due to bad weather in the area over the last few days, the vessel had to be ordered back offshore as a precautionary measures to prevent possible further exposure of its cargo to dangerous weather elements.

“Due to the wind and recent rains in St Helena, the cargo holds of the NS Qingdao were closed to prevent further incidents and she was instructed to sail 20 nautical miles offshore from St Helena  as a precautionary measure.  

“The aim is to open and ventilate the cargo hold offshore due to the  excess buildup of toxic fumes in the hold. Once the hold is properly ventilated, the vessel will return to St Helena to continue the discharge operation. She is being escorted by the tugs Umkhuseli and SA Amandla.

“NS Qingdao was on safe anchorage in St Helena Bay where she was towed after her chemical cargo become unstable due to contact with rain whilst discharging in the port of Durban,” said SAMSA.

End.

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