THE South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) said on Thursday night that it was monitoring and investigating the oil spill in Algoa Bay in the Eastern Cape.
The oil spill occurred on Wednesday at 1.15pm during a vessel bunkering operation in the Algoa Bay Anchorage Area No1.
SAMSA said the bunker operation between the receiving bulk carrier, MV Solin and bunker barge MV Sea Emperor was immediately stopped after noticing an overflowing fuel tank on the receiving vessel.
It said service providers were immediately deployed and arrived on site at 1.45pm to investigate the spill, deploy oil spill booms and start the recovery and clean-up operation.
“The oil spill response crew proceeded to collect as much of the emulsified heavy fuel oil on the surface of the sea as possible before sunset and only a thin sheen of oil remained on the water,” SAMSA said.
On Thursday morning, aerial patrol was conducted and this included St Croix Island, Bird Island and the coast just past Woody Cape.
Samsa said the purpose of the patrol was to establish the movement of the oil slick and whether the slick had broken up overnight, however, no oil was observed from the air.
It also conducted beach inspections from the Swartkops River Mouth, New Brighton Beach, Bluewater Bay beach towards the Port of Ngqura’s western breakwater.
Samsa stated additional inspections will be conducted on Friday at the Eastern Breakwater and move eastwards towards the Sundays River Mouth.
“It was reported that a small amount of emulsified heavy fuel oil, commonly known as Tar Balls, washed ashore along the beach between Hougham Park and Sundays River. Clean up operations will start in this area tomorrow morning at first light,” it said.
Samsa, Department of Forestry Fisheries and Environment, Transnet National Ports Authority, SANPARKS, SANCCOB and other stakeholders will also continue to monitor the area for any contaminated birds, penguins and other marine wildlife.
Public beaches in the metro region are currently being monitored by the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Beach Office.
“Both vessel owners, P&I Insurer and the Maritime Business Chamber are working with the authorities to ensure a successful outcome.
“Samsa boarded the MV Solin this morning to start a comprehensive investigation, collect evidence and interview the master and crew. The receiving vessel will be inspected to verify that the receiving vessel complies with all international requirements and standards,” the organisation said.
MV Solin is to remain detained in the port of Gqeberha until SAMSA is satisfied that the vessel can be released.