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THE wreck of the Seli 1 is to be removed from Table Bay “before the [next] winter”, says mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith.
There had been concerns that more oil would spill from the stricken vessel should it remain in the bay for another winter.
On Friday, three years to the day since the Seli 1 ran aground on September 7, 2009, city officials said the national Transport Department had agreed to fund the removal of the wreckage.
It had been estimated that it would cost R40 million, based on calculations last year.
Smith said the money would go to the SA Maritime Safety Association (Samsa) to contract the salvage.
He said the wreckage would be removed “before winter weather starts again”.
Transport Department spokesman Sam Monareng said it had approached the National Treasury for financial assistance and the matter was being considered.
“Depending on the conditions of the wreck, the estimated cost might change.”
Monareng said the department had asked other stakeholders, including the navy, to assist with the operation.
“The navy will assist in the carrying out of a thorough scan of the wreck and together with the salvage company, a detailed plan will be developed and discussed with the relevant stakeholders.”
Rough seas during the winter season had made it difficult for operations to be carried out.
“The department is in constant contact with the navy, the salvage company and the City of Cape Town to ensure that the salvage operation to remove the wreck is undertaken as soon as possible,” Monareng said.
Jabulani Sikhakhane, spokesman for the National Treasury, said adjustments to the national Budget would be announced during the tabling of the medium-term budget policy statement in Parliament on October 24.
Wilfred Solomons-Johannes of the city’s Disaster Risk Management Centre said that once the money had been released, a plan of action would be implemented for the vessel’s salvage.
He said there were two or three options for how the vessel would be salvaged, and the amount of money received would determine which option would be used.
Dave Colly, regional director of Samsa, had previously said that problems with the Seli 1 were what happened when the authorities failed to act quickly and decisively immediately after a ship ran aground.
Ten days ago, oil leaked from the wreck of the Seli 1, blackening the sand from Big Bay through Blouberg to Dolphin Beach.
For three days, the black sludge was scraped up and transported by truck to be dumped at Vissershok.
According to Sanccob, more than 150 seabirds were affected by the oil spill.
City officials had previously said they were highly concerned about the wreckage, particularly the long-term effects on the coastline and on endangered species.
The wreck has altered sea currents in the bay, causing coastal erosion and endangering city property, while in high seas ship’s fuel, which salvors were unable to remove completely, leaks and pollutes the sea and shore.