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Oil spill: Clean up operations continue in Algoa Bay

Clean-up operations are under way after an oil spill in Algoa Bay. File Picture

Clean-up operations are under way after an oil spill in Algoa Bay. File Picture

Published May 26, 2022

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Cape Town - Clean up operations continue in Algoa Bay in the Eastern Cape after an oil spill on Monday during a ship-to-ship transfer.

According to a statement by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa), Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE), five oil recovery boats are being used to collect the oil.

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By Tuesday afternoon, all visible heavy oil had been collected while large patches of light oil sheen were spotted.

“A helicopter was used for aerial surveillance and to assist in directing the boats towards the oil sheen for collection; however due to rough sea conditions, the oil recovery was suspended by 3.35pm.

“The removal of the oiled “oil absorbent material” between the two vessels continued throughout the night.

“Aerial surveillance has been increased to two flights per day from Wednesday with a vessel launched with a small drone assisting with the clean-up operations and continuous aerial surveillance in the immediate area around the vessel.

“The DFFE offshore patrol vessel Sarah Baartman arrived in Algoa Bay and will be available to assist with clean-up operations if need be,” the statement read.

It further stated an oil spill modelling provided by the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF) indicates the oil will not impact the Swartkop River nor beaches in the metro, however, it will drift towards the beaches of Woody Cape.

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No oiled birds or wildlife have been spotted this far, but members of the public are requested not to approach or try to capture any affected wildlife but rather contact Sanparks or the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (Sanccob) Gqeberha at Cape Recife Nature Reserve on 063 942 4702.

Rangers have been placed at St Croix Island to assist in monitoring and capturing birds and other affected wildlife.

“It is fortunate that the last full-scale joint industry-government oil spill response deployment exercise was held in Cape Town on May 12 to 13 where the National Oil Spill Response Plan was tried and tested.

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“This exercise helped considerably to ensure that the response for the spill in Algoa Bay was managed in the best possible manner and allowed for the quick deployment of resources to contain the spread of the oil and oil spill modelling,” the agencies said.

The exact quantity of the oil spilt is still under investigation.

Bunkering operations remain suspended at Algoa Bay and an investigation to ascertain the cause of the spillage is under way.

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