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Durban - After successfully removing about 1 900 tons of fuel from a shipwreck in Richards Bay “without spilling a drop”, salvors are now turning their attention to the coal cargo on board.
Samsa executive manager (East Coast) Captain Ali Saroor said on Wednesday that preparations were being made to remove the cargo.
“Not a drop of oil was spilt during the operation. All the oil is gone and we are now looking at the coal,” said Ali.
“We are putting the platforms and vessels in place now for the coal removal operation,” Ali said.
If all the preparations went well, they would start pumping out the coal tomorrow.
It would be done with Dop pumps - special submersible dredge pumps - he said. The coal would become like slurry and be siphoned off into another vessel.
He expected the operation to take several weeks to complete.
The bulk carrier vessel MV Smart was carrying 1 800 to 1 900 tons of fuel and almost 150 000 tons of coal when it ran aground on August 19, about 250m from the public beach Alkantstrand.
It experienced trouble soon after leaving the Richards Bay Coal Terminal, where it had loaded its cargo, and ran aground in high swells.
Harbour tugs were not able to dislodge it, and that night the ship broke in two. The split happened at the six- and seven-hatch area of the nine-hatch ship.
Since then, the South African Marine Safety Authority and salvage operators Spilltech and Subtech have been running a 24/7 operation.
Apart from the black oil in the fuel tank, the ship was carrying diesel for use in auxiliary engines.