20 June 2005

Grounded vessel still monitored

An oil spill response team from the Environmental Affairs and Tourism Department has put up a protective boom across the Mtana Estuary in the Eastern Cape as part of its precautionary measures after a gross ton log-carrier lay aground.

The "Kiperousa" was traveling from West Africa to the Far East when it was grounded on a reef off Bhega, five miles south of Hamburg in the Eastern Cape on last Tuesday.

It sustained damage on the bottom that resulted in the engine room being flooded and a total loss of power and facilities.

It was later blown onto the beach.

It's owners, Sealink Marine of Piraeus from Greece, have contracted an international salvage company Tsavliris.

Environmental Affairs Spokesperson JP Louw said the protection of the marine environment remained an important priority for his department.

It has deployed the oil pollution abatement vessel, Kuswag1, and Kuswag 8 surveillance aircraft to the scene since Monday to monitor the situation.

"A small amount of oil was reported to be leaking from the vessel, but is naturally dissipating rapidly. No oil is reported to have reached the shore," said Mr Louw.

However there is concern that the risk of pollution in the area remains as approximately 250 cubic metres of heavy fuel oil and 63 cubic metres of diesel oil remain aboard the vessel.

Members of the South African Maritime Safety Authority Casualty Response Unit also remain on site.

"The salvors are continuing with attempts to re-float the grounded vessel. Equipment necessary for an oil transfer operation is also being transferred onto the vessel," he said.

"A heavy lift helicopter is also on site and provides assistance in the transfer of heavy duty salvage equipment onto the Kiperousa," he said.

Source: www.allafrica.com and www.deat.gov.za


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