The Gibraltar Contingency Council convened virtually again this evening in order to discuss developments throughout the afternoon and plans for tomorrow’s operations. The Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, the Governor Vice Admiral Sir David Steel, the Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Garcia and the Minister for the Port Vijay Daryanani attended.
The Captain of the Port advised that the situation overall remains positive, whilst salvors work round the clock to remove fuel and strip the vessel of its contents.
Pumping operations to remove fuel are progressing well and the pumping of lube oil has commenced. Pumping continues for now also from the forward Tank 1. More detail on the total amounts pumped from the various tanks aboard the vessel will be provided tomorrow during the course of the day as these are reconciled with records from aboard the vessel and other sources.
The Captain of the Port therefore expects to be in a better position to provide more accurate figures over the coming days. Nevertheless, the figures already reported provide confidence that the operations to extract fuel from the OS 35 are progressing positively.
TOTAL SHIP CLEARANCE OPERATIONS
Operations have also commenced, in parallel to oil pumping operations, to clear the OS 35 of any potential additional future contaminants including chemicals, paint and soft furnishings, in preparation for any bad weather that may be experienced in the coming weeks which could lead to any such contaminants escaping the vessel and any booms set up around it.
Salvage teams are going section by section and locker to locker to remove as much of the vessel’s contents as possible whilst weather conditions are favourable.
It is important that salvage teams take advantage of every available minute of the good weather for this and thereby avoid as much contamination as possible if the weather turns.
FREE FLOATING SHEEN
The secondary boom is in place and is proving effective at containing most of the sheen that escapes the first boom. Some seepage from the secondary boom is inevitable and to be expected. Booms are not hermetic and can never fully contain polluting contaminants within them, although they greatly ameliorate contamination and pollution.
Reports from Salvamento Maritimo overflights indicate that the bay is clear of oiling or free-floating sheening. The situation on the east side with regards to free floating sheen and oil has also improved significantly, although there continue to be some patches in the area.
The catamaran Horizon is proving very effective at skimming free-floating sheen and will be operational 24/7. Unfortunately, it has an onboard malfunction and will need to return to port for some hours to repair.
One J formation boom will continue to remain on site on the eastside overnight, guided by infrared cameras to collate and contain sheening from the secondary boom.
There is no indication of new arrival of oil on the shoreline.
Today’s cleanup of the shoreline, organised by the Department of the Environment in conjunction with local NGOs and volunteers, was successful in removing some of the oily patches on Gibraltar’s beaches.
Patches of thick oil have been found at Gorham’s Cave. These will be assessed tomorrow by specialist staff from OSRL.
The Department of the Environment report the presence of some oily material on northern end of Rosia Bay that will be tackled.
ENGINE ROOM AND CARGO HOLD 5
The situation in the engine room is stable and under control.
Dive teams located the leak to cargo hold 5 and believe that they have successfully patched it. This will add buoyancy to the aft of the ship.
As part of the ongoing efforts to clear the vessel of its contents, the salvage team identified that its hydraulic liquid store was contained in the vessel’s focsle.
This section, being at the front of the vessel, was flooded during the early stages of the incident.
This likely therefore explains the sighting of green liquid emanating from the front of the vessel in the first days of the incident.
BATHING PAVILION CLOSED
The GSLA this afternoon closed the Montagu Bathing Pavilion due to the discovery of light sheen on the surface of the water.
The Captain of the Port has advised that this is unlikely to be sheen escaping from the OS 35 directly. Instead, it is likely to be sheen coming off service craft that are berthed there and are involved in response operations.
AquaGib reports that their water intake inlets at Waterport are free of oil.
CIVIL CONTINGENCY ACT AMENDMENT
The Minister for Civil Contingencies Samantha Sacramento has published Emergency Regulations under the Civil Contingencies Act 2007 that provide the Royal Gibraltar Police, HM Customs, Port Officers and the Environmental Protection & Research Unit with enforcement powers over the 500m exclusion zone around the vessel.
An overnight update will next be published at 8:00am.
The Gibraltar Contingency Council will next convene at 12 noon tomorrow, or earlier if required.