The Gibraltar Contingency Council, jointly chaired by the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo and the Governor Vice Admiral David Steel, convened this evening at No 6 Convent Place. Minister for the Port Vijay Daryanani and Minister for Environment John Cortes were also present. The Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Garcia attended via video link.
The operation to deploy a second containment boom around the vessel is ongoing. This is a complex operation and GPA assets are working closely and inter-operating with Salvamento Maritimo in deploying. The process of establishing his wider, secondary boom will not be finalised today and is ongoing.
A J formation boom will, additionally, continue to operate during the night hours on the Eastside.
ENGINE ROOM LEAK
Operations to pump out water from the engine room of the OS 35 commenced early this afternoon and have been largely successful. A sufficient amount of water has been pumped out of the engine room to stabilise the situation somewhat. The vessel is not, however, able to operate using its own power.
Divers are working to identify the source of the leak into the engine room.
There is currently a degree of control over the amount of ingress into the engine room but this is not an ideal situation by any measure.
A degree of deterioration in the structure around the engine room as a result of the leak can reasonably be expected and the degree of water ingress could realistically increase at any time.
The vessel’s own machinery therefore remains currently out of use.
CARGO HOLD 5
Given the circumstances that have arisen in respect of the flooding of the engine room, water has been also pumped out of Cargo Hold 5 to add to the buoyancy of the aft section of the vessel in an attempt to mitigate the impact of the leak on the structural integrity of the vessel.
REMOVAL OF FUEL FROM OS 35
The vessel’s forward No Tank 1 is split into 4 distinct parts. They are Port, Centre Port, Starboard and Centre Starboard.
Very slow extraction has successfully begun from Tank 1 Centre Starboard. Initial assessments suggest that this tank suffers from a minor rapture that is letting water into this tank. The extraction from this tank therefore needs to be done by relying on the pressure of the water entering the tank pushing the oil upwards toward and through the tank vent. This is a slow process that is managed carefully in order not to increase the amount of water that is mixed in with the fuel when extracted.
Operations to start the extraction from Tank 1 Centre Starboard were authorised by the Captain of the Port and commenced at approximately 5.00pm. By 7:00pm, 12 cubic metres of mixed oil and water had been extracted from this part of Tank 1.
It is estimated that there are approximately 80 tonnes of heavy fuel oil in this Tank 1 Centre Starboard.
The removal of fuel from Tank 1 Centre Starboard will continue throughout the night.
The quantities of heavy fuel oil in the other distinct parts of Tank 1 are different and may be as low as zero in some of them. An assessment of these quantities is ongoing. The largest quantity is, however, believed to be the quantity in Tank 1 Centre Starboard, which is the one being emptied now.
Extraction is happening through the relevant tank vent on the submerged deck of the vessel.
A Drum Skimmer has recovered a further 600 litres of low sulphur fuel oil from the vicinity of OS 35.
Skimming operations will continue tomorrow.
An asset has today been contracted by the GPA and has been deployed since mid-morning (contracted in from a commercial operator based in the Port of Algeciras) that will be able to conduct brush skimming of some of the free floating sheen.
The catamaran launch en route from Cadiz has had to shelter in the Port of Tarifa due to wind conditions this afternoon. It is expected to be operational on mission on the eastside tomorrow morning.
EXCLUSION ZONE EXTENDED
The Captain of the Port has issued a new LEGAL NOTICE TO MARINERS providing for an extension to the exclusion zone around the OS 35, increased to 500m around the vessel.
This arises as a result of the layered containment approach in order to protect the integrity of the second boom. The Notice is designed to allow the navigational room necessary for salvage and pollution prevention and control operations, security and to secure safety of navigation, especially at night, as the secondary boom is not independently illuminated.
A new boom has been deployed at the entrance to Sandy Bay.
Beach clean-up works continue work at Sandy Bay (raking) and Little Bay (focus on cleaning rocks and pebbles).
The Environmental Research and Protection Unit’s latest assessment is that there is no significant increase in soiled birds.
The Gibraltar Contingency Council will reconvene at 12:00pm tomorrow, or earlier if required.
An update on developments overnight will be issued during the course of the early morning.