Department spells out measures to deal with possible oil spill
May 5, 2004
Author: Carol Moses, DEAT
The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), in line with its precautionary approach, is consolidating its environmental measures and assuring that all means are put in place to minimise the risk of an environmental disaster should the stricken Cape Africa start leaking its 1900 tons of bunker oil. The size of the hole is reported to be 23 metres by five-seven metres and could lead to the ship either sinking or breaking up.
The Department's supply vessel, the SA Agulhas is still steaming steadily toward Cape Town and is expected tomorrow (Thursday, 6 May 2004) when she will immediately be prepared for her departure to the Cape Africa casualty. The SA Agulhas will be used as a base for salvage personnel, equipment storage, helicopter landings, a medical facility and as a temporary storage for the fuel pumped from the Cape Africa.
In the meantime the salvage company, Smit Salvage Ltd, has started preparing a Russian tug, the Nikolay Chiker, scheduled to depart for the casualty tonight. It is expected that commencement with a ship-to-ship oil transfer operation could be accelerated.
The Kuswag IV, the oil pollution abatement vessel, deployed by the Department to the scene last Thursday (29 April 2204) remains on standby in the event of an oil spill. The Department continues to monitor the currents, weather and wind conditions and its anti pollution patrol aircraft, Kuswag VIII, is also engaged to monitor the situation closely.
Further protective measures implemented by the Department remain in place, which include continuous communications with conservation authorities and organizations; coastal cleanup-up teams and mobilized oil spill response equipment ready for deployment along the coast.
On Monday 26 April 2004 the 150 000 ton Taiwanese registered cargo ship, issued a distress call following the discovery of a large hole in its hull. It is still unclear how the ship was damaged.
The Cape Africa remains afloat at 150 miles West of Cape Town with the Smit Amandla and the Kuswag IV still on the scene.