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CADET NEWS AGENCY
After three years and three oil spills, the Seli 1 wreck is to be removed from the Table View beachfront.
The National Treasury is setting aside funds to salvage the beached vessel after the Transport Department put forward a request last week.
“It’s great news. Finally after three years of discussion, something is being done,” JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, told the Cape Argus yesterday.
The Turkish-owned carrier vessel, loaded with coal and fuel, ran aground in 2009.
Last weekend the middle portion of the wreck burst open, causing it to haemorrhage oil into the sea.
But the ship, which was smashed apart by bad weather, will probably be lying off Dolphin Beach for a while, with removal anticipated to take place only at the end of summer.
Wilfred Solomons-Johannes, the City of Cape Town’s disaster management spokesman, said salvaging options had been discussed and would be presented during a cabinet meeting next month.
He said the R40 million estimated to be needed for the salvage would be ideal, but there were back-up plans in place in case the national government couldn’t shell out the full amount.
“It is important for us to complete the salvaging operation during summer because it isn’t safe to work on the vessel in bad weather,” said Solomons-Johannes.
According to the city, the majority of the oil spill has broken up.
But 100 workers are scouring beaches and washing away debris and smudges of oil, and teams are on standby in case more fossil fuel leaks from the rusted wreck.
While beaches may soon be oil-free, the spills have taken their toll on the penguin population, with almost 200 of the oiled birds rescued by teams on Robben Island and by seabird rehabilitation group Sanccob.
Nicky Stander, rehabilitation manager for Sanccob, said this number was barely scratching the surface of the damage the oil spill had caused.
“It’s not only the penguins that are suffering,” said Stander. “Other seabirds and fish are also being affected by the toxic substance.”
A dead penguin covered in oil was reportedly found by teams on Robben Island on Saturday.