The Gibraltar Contingency Council chaired jointly by the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo and the Governor Vice Admiral David Steel, convened in person this afternoon at No 6 Convent Place. The Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Garcia and Minister for the Port Vijay Daryanani attended in person, whilst Minister for Environment John Cortes attended via video link.
The Captain of the Port has confirmed that the situation remains stable onboard.
- Water ingress into the Engine Room is very light and under control.
- Work is ongoing to empty the vessel of its inventory.
- The secondary boom is being re-placed around the vessel after overnight winds displaced it.
- The Gibraltar Port Authority is working with Salvamento Maritimo to source heavier sinkers for the secondary boom that will increase its resilience against strong winds.
- The boom at Catalan Bay has been displaced but is not damaged and has been re-laid.
- 2 trucks from OSRL arrived this morning, carrying both offshore and onshore oil response equipment.
PUMPING OPERATIONS ALMOST COMPLETE
The Captain of the Port has confirmed that the following total quantities of fuel are believed to have been successfully recovered from the OS 35 (subject to more accurate measures being taken):
It is important to note that the table below provides the figures as declared by the vessel at the beginning of the incident. In the same way as more diesel oil has been extracted than was declared as being on board, the situation could arise where there was less fuel oil on board in reality than was declared.
Additionally, the figures extracted may include water mixed with oil in the vessel’s tanks before extraction.
With the exception of Tank 2 the salvors are confident that all concentrations of pumpable oil have been extracted, including those in the main Engine Room tanks. Some product remains in Tank 2, which the salvors plan to attempt to extract.
There are still small tanks around the ship with small quantities that need to be emptied. These small tanks are not expected to be holding large quantities of oil.
Divers are investigating the presence of any oil concentrations in void spaces and non-tank spaces. Any significant quantities will also be pumped out to the furthest extent that this will be possible.
It is important to outline that whilst the majority of fuel has been removed from the vessel, continued discharge of pollutants is expected until the time that the salvage operations are complete.
SKIMMING OPERATIONS SUCCESSFUL AND CONTINUOUS
A total of approximately 21,000 litres of fuel has been recovered via skimming since the incident. Most of this has been recovered from inside the first (inner) boom.
This includes 2000 litres recovered overnight from a heavy concentration within the inner boom.
The catamaran Horizon has so far recovered approximately 4000 litres from the free-floating sheen. The vessel returned to operations this morning following technical issues last night that prevented works continuing overnight. The Horizon is currently targeting free floating oil patches outside second layer of boom.
There are now 5 vessels in the area with sorbent booms deployed and a further 2 pairs in J formation.
Active skimming work continues directly on the deck of the OS 35, which is working to recover dark oily patches before they reach the first boom.
Drone images from this morning show heavy concentrations of oil are no longer as prevalent within the inner boom. The significant progress on skimming inside the inner boom is also evident from drone images early this afternoon, with the density of dark patches decreasing. This is positive evidence that there is no significant new discharge of fuel from the vessel.
MAJOR INCIDENT POSTURE
The salvors and the Captain of the Port have advised that the majority of the fuel has been removed from the OS 35 and that the second stage of the salvage operation – to recover as much of the vessel’s contents and cargo as safely possible – will now commence.
The Government will therefore review its Major Incident posture this afternoon with a view to seeking to step it down tomorrow.
This will allow the Captain of the Port to re-establish normal Port operations insofar as will not interfere with continued pollution prevention and salvage operations.
The boom at Mid Harbours Marina will also be removed this afternoon.
The assistance of the Spanish authorities, Salvamento Maritimo and SASEMAR will continue to be required and are appreciated through this recovery phase of the salvage operation.
Red flags remain in place at Little Bay and Sandy Bay whilst clean-up efforts continue.
These are each under constant review.
The Gibraltar Contingency Council will reconvene at 9pm this evening, or earlier if required.