Gibraltar removes 41,000 litres of fuel and water from tanker OS35

by Lorraine Williamson
41,000 litres of fuel

The Gibraltar Government estimates that an estimated 41000 litres of fuel and water were removed from the starboard middle tank of the tanker OS35 on Sunday. Work is also ongoing to ‘remove any possible contaminants from the vessel’. 

On Sunday afternoon, the Government provided an update in a communiqué following the afternoon meeting of the Gibraltar Emergency Board. Water is still being pumped out of cargo hold 5. Furthermore, divers are also ‘actively working to plug the leak, as this would give the vessel more buoyancy’. 

Clean-up of possible pollutants 

Gibraltar authorities also noted that ‘work is underway to remove possible contaminants, such as chemicals, foodstuffs and loose articles. This is in addition to the ongoing operation to remove fuel from the vessel. 

Tank 1 

A total of 41000 litres of fuel and water have been removed from the centre starboard tank 1. Gibraltar warned that the operation will then proceed ‘very slowly and carefully’ to begin pumping fuel from the centre port tank and from tank 1 on the port side. However, ‘both parts of tank 1 are expected to contain very small amounts of fuel’. 

According to the statement, ‘it is suspected that all parts of tank 1 are waterlogged to some extent’. This means that ‘rescuers should be able to remove the fuel inside as water accumulates inside pushing the fuel into the vents’. 

Tank 2 

Once the tests, pump checks and work on tank 1 is complete, tank 2 will be revisited ‘to try to remove any remaining fuel that was previously inaccessible. And then, they will remove as much of the remaining fuel as possible’. 

This will be a ‘very slow process. But it is essential to ensure as much fuel as possible is removed from tank 2’, said the Gibraltar Government. The Government also stated that work is underway to remove floating oil slicks using a combination of absorbent booms and skimmers. 

The communiqué noted that ‘tidal conditions are expected to change over the course of the day. However, there is currently no indication of any further westward extension of floating slicks at Punta Europa’. 

Gibraltar also reports that diving teams are checking all the water intakes daily and that there is currently ‘no evidence of oil in any of the water intakes’ from the national water company AquaGib, which is also closely monitoring the saltwater collection points in the reservoir, where ‘there is also no evidence of oil present’. 

Beaches 

In addition, teams of volunteers, local NGOs and the Ministry of Environment continued to clean up the land on Sunday. The red flag at Sandy Beach has been replaced by the yellow flag. Playa Poniente in Línea de la Concepción was reopened to the public after clean-up operations. 

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