BBC China update

Nov 2, 2004
Issued by Joint Response Committee

Monday November 1st 2004, 16h15

Salvage personnel have made good use of improved weather conditions to complete reinstating the BBC China's cranes, onboard generators and other salvage equipment damaged during bad weather experienced on site last week. They have been able to mobilise specially designed 'seaslugs' (floating ‘bladders’ commonly used to safely store oil) on the landward side of the 'BBC China', which is currently offering a degree of protection from the swell. As soon as weather conditions allow, the team
will continue with the BBC China fuel removal operation. To date, approximately half of the heavy fuel oil onboard has been removed, with a total of 30 tonnes of heavy fuel oil, 60 tonnes of gasoil (diesel) and 8 tonnes of lubricants remaining. The removal of cargo items will also continue as soon as weather conditions allow.

The Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism's oil pollution patrol and abatement vessel - Kuswag I - undertakes regular patrols in the vicinity of the casualty. The oil pollution patrol aircraft - Kuswag VIII - continues to patrol the coastline on a daily basis and yesterday reported no oil emanating from the casualty and no pollution on the beach visible from the aircraft. Of paramount importance during the BBC China oil removal operation is the protection of the marine environment. To this end, both proactive and reactive environmental protection measures are in place. As part of the precautionary measures put in place by the Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism, contingency plans remain in place for all beach and lagoon areas both north and south of the BBC China and a team is on standby to respond as required.

picture courtesy Chris Bennett

At midnight on Tuesday 26th October, the vessel's owners declared the BBC China a 'Constructive Total Loss'. It is understood by all parties that it will not be possible to refloat the BBC China and in consultation with local leaders and local authorities the relevant authorities are investigating the most effective means of reducing the casualty's impact on the environment. A decision in this regard will be made in due course.

The 5,548-gt general cargo vessel BBC China was built in 2001. It was en route to the Port of Durban from Port of Spain, with a cargo of assorted machinery, when it ran aground on 16 October at Port Grosvenor, on a notoriously rocky part of the wild coast, approximately 110 nautical miles south of Durban. The vessel's crew was safely airlifted off the vessel shortly after she ran aground.

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