A kilometre-long oil slick, believed to be from the Seli 1 in Table Bay, has put Koeberg on high alert, led to booms being placed around the mouth of the Milnerton Lagoon and got animal rescue organisations on standby.

Blackened surf and sand marred a stretch of coastline at Blaauwberg yesterday, but a spokesman for the City of Cape Town said an aerial surveillance flight had revealed no immediate threat to bird colonies on Robben Island. Venessa Strauss, CEO of Sanccob, said they were monitoring the situation. Beach surveys had been done from Milnerton Lagoon to Big Bay but no oiled birds had been found.

An oiled seal found on the beach was being treated and cleaned.

It is believed recent stormy weather and high seas have shifted the wreck of the Russian Seli 1, which ran aground in September 2009, and this has caused the slick.

The SA Maritime Safety Authority said most of the oil in the fuel tanks was removed during salvage operations almost two years ago, but small amounts of oil remained on the vessel.

No swimming, boating, kite surfing, canoeing or paddleskiing will be permitted in the affected area, and no shellfish or bait should be collected.

The oil slick was first spotted on Friday night, according to Wilfred Solomons-Johannes, spokesman for the City of Cape Town’s Disaster Management, who said the poor visibility and rough seas had prevented clean-up operations from starting immediately.

An initial assessment was followed by aerial surveillance to determine the extent of the oil slick, and the threat to both marine life and the immediate environment.

The Cape Zone Oil Spill Plan, co-ordinated by the Department of Environmental Affairs, was immediately activated to ensure a joint approach.

He added that the National Port Authority was also on the scene and put booms up off the mouth of Milnerton Lagoon as a precautionary measure.

Koeberg Nuclear Power Station was also informed, and was on high alert for a possible threat to its intake basin.

The SPCA was at the beach yesterday, and supervisor Brett Glasby, said:

“The oil gets stuck to the seals’ fur and takes away some or all of the fur’s buoyancy, which could lead to hypothermia as the seals take to the water.

“We will continue to search for seals or any other animals injured or hurt as a result of the spill over the next few days.”

- Weekend Argus