Update: Leaked oil from OS35 reaches Spanish beaches in La Línea de la Concepción

by Lorraine Williamson
OS35 ship

The mayor of La Línea de la Concepción (Cadiz), Juan Franco, pointed out in an interview with the Spanish TV station RTVE that the oil from the tanker OS35 has reached the beach, Playa de Poniente, in his municipality. 

Meanwhile, the good news is that 80% of the ship’s diesel cargo (197 cubic metres) has now been successfully removed. However, the cargo ship remains stranded off the coast of Gibraltar and is being pumped out. There has been constant surveillance, including drones and thermal imaging aircraft’ to monitor the progress of the work. 

The OS35 was carrying 215 tonnes of heavy fuel oil, 250 tonnes of diesel and 27 tonnes of lubricating oil for its own use. Some of this fuel, which has not been quantified, spilled into the sea on Thursday, breaching the first containment boom. The leak, which was in two tank openings, was later plugged by divers. 

Battle to capture the oil spillage from OS35

Furthermore, port operations in Gibraltar remain suspended until further notice. The ship´s Captain has been arrested and, according to a spokesman for the investigation, is reportedly cooperating with the authorities. Gibraltar’s Prime Minister, Fabian Picardo, reported to the media that when the accident happened, Gibraltar’s maritime authority had told the ship’s captain to stop. However, he insisted he had suffered ‘no damage’. Therefore, he continued to sail on to the Straits of Gibraltar. However, once there, according to Picardo, ‘the ingress of water into the ship was so serious that the captain could not continue his journey’. Then the captain ‘had to follow the instructions of the harbour master of Gibraltar’. By then, the people on board were already in danger.  

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At the same time, the British Ministry of Defence provided an additional barrier designed to protect the coast from leaks of low-sulphur fuel oil or other possible leaks. 

In addition, skimmers (devices for mechanically capturing oil that has leaked into the water) have been deployed on board to capture the portion of oil remaining within the first barrier. 

Working together to contain the leak  

Spanish government spokesperson and Minister of Territorial Policy, Isabel Rodríguez, has assured that the government is working ‘with all the public services’ and with all the means at the state’s disposal to try to control the diesel OS35 spill. 

Ecological drama 

‘It is an ecological drama and we are following it closely,’ the minister stated in an interview on Antena 3, reported by Europa Press, in which she announced that the Transport Ministry ‘joins the other administrations, mayors and authorities of Gibraltar involved’. 

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