OS 35 fuel extraction work begins this Thursday

The Government of Gibraltar hopes to be able to start this Thursday to extract the fuel from the bulk carrier OS35, which remains half sunk in the bay of Algeciras (Cádiz), as it is “well contained” after the rupture detected in the hull following its collision with another ship, while a team of divers will conduct an external inspection and determine the extent of the breakage.

According to the latest update issued by the Gibraltar Contingency Council at 07:00 this Thursday, the situation vessel OS35 “stayed stable” overnight and additional surveillance by drones and ground-based thermal imaging “revealed no significant changes in the situation”.

According to the Government of Gibraltar, the salvage team remains on board the vessel to continue to assess and plan the way forward and divers will be there shortly for an outside inspection of the hull. Likewise, the Gibraltar Ports Authority will continue in the morning with the deployment of equipment and preparations for subsequent operations while normal port operations remain suspended.

The Gibraltar Contingency Council already pointed out late on Wednesday that “the indications indicate that it is probable that the ship did not break up as such, but that it deformed” and indicated as “primary concern” the disposal “as soon as possible” of the heavy fuel oil with a low sulfur content which is on board, followed by the diesel fuel and then the lubricating oil.

According to the government of Gibraltar, the fuel on board “is well contained” and unloading should begin this Thursday morning. The executive chaired by Picardo defends that “There was no way to remove the fuel from the ship in a way that would not pose a risk to the environment” and emphasizes that “if such an option had existed with the resources available in the area, it would have been taken”.

In your opinion, ongoing plans to withdraw oil represent ‘best possible option’ to carry out this task “cleanly and without risk of lasting damage to the environment” of the Bay of Algeciras.

To this end, the Government of Gibraltar explains that “the barrier placed on the port side of the vessel is separated from the hull to prevent any possible leakage of oil to the exterior” and points out that deployment of a new “inflatable J-dam to collect oil” which could leak during the night, to which will be added three other barriers ready to be deployed this Thursday and another barrier filled with foam which will be placed to protect the beach.

At the same time, the executive chaired by Picardo reports the acquisition in the United Kingdom of additional oil spill protection equipment ‘expected to arrive in Gibraltar this Sundayand defends that its Department of the Environment “has qualified personnel in the fight against oil spills to manage any intervention”, as well as “an environmental sensitivity map” is in preparation to determine the best location of the barriers preventive measures along the coast of the Bay of Algeciras.

Finally, the government of Gibraltar ensures that the new rupture recorded in the afternoon of this Wednesday makes “probable that the rescue of the OS35 hull now requires a longer term plan” which “extends beyond the previous expectation of a few weeks”, since refloating the ship by installing a cofferdam “may no longer be a viable option for its salvage”. Either way, he stresses that no further details can be determined until a team of divers can inspect the damage.


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