The Gibraltar Contingency Council convened at noon today via video link to receive a situational update from the Captain of the Port. The Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, the Governor Vice Admiral Sir David Steel, the Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Garcia and Minister for the Port Vijay Daryanani attended.
The Captain of the Port advised that the situation is currently stable in general.
Investigations into the cause of water ingress into the vessel’s engine room confirm that a manhole had not been totally sealed. The stress on the hull caused the keel duct to flood and water then seeped into the manhole and then the engine room.
This has now been sealed and there is no longer a need for continuous pumping of water out of the engine room, although some minor ingress continues to drip in.
Control has been re-established over the engine room.
CARGO HOLD 5
Water continues to be pumped out of cargo hold 5.
Divers are actively working to patch the leak as this would provide added buoyancy to the vessel.
CLEARING POTENTIAL CONTAMINANTS
Work is ongoing to remove the vessel’s inventory of potential contaminants in preparation for a bad weather scenario. This includes the removal of chemicals, food, loose items etc in addition to the ongoing operation to remove the vessel’s fuel.
REMOVAL OF FUEL FROM TANK 1
A total of 41,000 litres of fuel and water has been removed from tank 1 centre starboard.
Pumping continues to remove fuel from tank 1 centre starboard, and will then move on to tank 1 starboard.
The operation will thereafter move very slowly and carefully to begin to pump fuel out of tank 1 centre port and tank 1 port. The expectation is that both of these parts of tank 1 will contain very small amounts of fuel.
It is suspected that all parts of tank 1 have been compromised with water to a certain degree. This means that salvors should be able to draw out any fuel within because of water accumulations inside pushing the fuel up towards the vents.
REMOVING RESIDUAL FUEL FROM TANK 2
Once the tests, pumping checks and operations on tank 1 are complete, an operation will revisit tank 2 to attempt to eliminate any remaining fuel that was previously un-reachable until the maximum amount of fuel residue is removed to the extent that it is possible.
This will be a very slow process but is essential to ensure that the maximum possible amount of fuel is removed from tank 2.
FREE FLOATING SHEEN
Work is ongoing to tackle free-floating sheen using a combination of sorbent booms and skimmers.
The drum skimmer has removed at least 5000 litres of fuel from inside boom 1 since last night, and continues to tackle fuel concentrations on the side of the hull.
A second skimmer yesterday collected an additional 12,000 litres of fuel from within boom 1. This also remains on site and continues to skim further concentrations from the side of the hull.
The catamaran is making its way to the east side after re-provisioning and will be operational imminently.
Whilst tidal conditions can be expected to change through the day, there are currently no indications of further free floating sheen at Europa Point spreading West.
Daily checks of all water intake inlets are being conducted by dive teams.
There are currently no indications of any oil at any of AquaGib’s water intake inlets.
AquaGib are also closely monitoring salt water collection points at Beefsteak Reservoir, where there is no indication of oil.
LANDSIDE CLEANUP EFFORTS CONTINUE
Teams of volunteers, local NGOs and the Department of the Environment will today continue landside cleanup operations.
Some oily patches have been found at Gorham’s Cave.
There are reports of some Gulls and Mediterranean Shags soiled with oil but none have yet been discovered in distress for now.
The Gibraltar Contingency Council will re-convene via video link at 7:30pm this evening, or sooner if required.
Note to Editors:
The amounts of fuel / oily water recovered will henceforth be recorded in litres, for ease of understanding.
1 cubic metre is 1000 litres.