Today, work to extract fuel from the ship OS 35 begins

against the clock The bay of Algeciras watches with concern the work that the government of Gibraltar is undertaking on the ship 0S 35, which suffered an accident last Monday and remains stuck in the eastern part of the Rock. While a salvage team is aboard the ship to assess its condition and find a way to extract all the fuel inside from today, thus avoiding an environmental disaster, a team of divers will inspect the condition of her hull, which broke yesterday causing a second leak of hydraulic fluid.

According to Gibraltar authorities, the two recorded spills have been brought under control thanks to the containment barriers deployed, and they plan to increase the same number in J formations this morning, as well as a foam-filled barrier at Catalan Bay to protect the beach.

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The protection of the area is also a request and concern of the Junta de Andalucía, which yesterday activated the pre-emergency phase of the Emergency Plan for the Risk of Coastal Pollution in Andalusia (Pecla), and of the City Council of ‘Algeciras, which has activated its local action plan against coastal pollution.

Heavy fuel oil will be the first to withdraw

Gibraltar is assisting a bulk carrier after it collided with another vessel while maneuvering on Playa de Levante de la Línea de la Concepción last Monday.

Press Europe / EP

After the assessment of the salvage team, work will begin to extract the fuel carried by the injured vessel. In total, 215 tonnes of heavy fuel oil will be given priority for evacuation “as soon as possible”, according to government sources from Le Rocher. After that, the 250 tons of diesel and 27 tons of lubricating oil will be discharged.

To undertake this mission, Gibraltar imposed other preventive measures, such as the separation of the anti-pollution barrier placed at the bottom of the ship to prevent any possible oil leakage, as well as the installation of inflatable booms in the form of J to catch any leaks that may occur.

The reluctance of environmentalists, Algeciras and La Línea

Agadén Ecologistas en Acción fears that an “oil slick” may occur in the region and stresses that the situation of the ship puts “the environment and the economy of the bay of Algeciras and the Costa del Sol in danger”, since he criticizes that Gibraltar does not accept Spanish aid when, in his opinion, “it does not have the means or sufficient technical preparation to deal with such a delicate situation.

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This “irresponsible attitude” of the Government of the Rock, as described by the mayor of Algeciras, José Ignacio Landaluce, for having rejected the aid of Salvamento Marítimo, led to the activation in this municipality of Cádiz of the Action Plan against coastal pollution. “We have an obligation to be careful, foresighted and protective with our natural environment, and especially with the health and well-being of our neighbors in this situation.”

This open front between the Rock and Spain also provoked the reaction of Juan Franco, mayor of La Línea, on whose beach the accident between the ships occurred while the OS 35 was carrying out maneuvers to leave the bay. “I ask the different administrations involved, both Spanish and Gibraltarian, to be responsible,” he said, while insisting that it would be necessary “to put international issues aside and reach an agreement to collaborate and avoid possible environmental damage”.

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