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18 May 2000 – Danube, Tisza and Somes, Hungary and Romania
People whose livelihoods were harmed by a cyanide spill into two Hungarian rivers in January have filed damages claims of 3.6 million dollars so far, a lawyer said yesterday. Private citizens, small businesses and local authorities are claiming for lost revenue from tourism, fishing and local taxes after cyanide devastated the Somes and the Tisza rivers, said attorney Erika Mayer. In the January incident, some 100,000 tons of cyanide residue spilled from a reservoir at the Aurul gold mining complex in neighbouring Romania, flowed down the Somes into the Tisza and into the Danube. The claims mostly demand compensation from the Aurul mining complex, but lawyers are examining whether to direct claims against its Australian co-owner Esmeralda Explorations Ltd, its financing banks or against the institute that had planned Aurul's dykes that breached, Mayer said. The Hungarian state so far has not launched suits over the issue, although Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in February that it would definitely sue the Aurul complex and Esmeralda, and might sue the Romanian state as well. Hungary claimed that the cyanide spill killed more than 1,200 tons of fish in Hungary alone. After the cyanide disaster, the Tisza and the Somes rivers suffered two separate heavy metal pollution spills from other Romanian mines.
14 June 2000 – A gold smelter in Romania blamed for a big cyanide spill in European rivers in January has restarted operations with tighter safety measures, Australian part-owner Esmeralda Exploration Ltd said today. Esmeralda, a gold producer based in Western Australia, said it had changed the plant's equipment to handle future overflow and had received the support of government, environmental authorities and local people to restart the tailings re-treatment project. "We have now satisfied all of the requirements that have been placed on us by the Government and were restarting operations yesterday to return to normal operational capacity," Esmeralda lawyer Michael Hardy said. He said so far Esmeralda had not been notified of any legal action against the company by the Hungarian Government as reported from Budapest or any compensation claim. To satisfy safety requirements, Esmeralda said the company had changed to an open circuit system which meant it could now pump water from the tailings dam via the existing pipeline back to the plant site and to the nearby Bozinta dam in the case of heavy rains as in January. As well as changing the system, the company had raised the free-board, the distance between the water level and the top of the dam, and strengthened dam walls. It also planned to install a permanent cyanide detoxification unit as an additional precautionary measure.
11 July 2000 – Hungary announced today a claim of 29.37 billion forints, $A 181.7 million, against an Australian mining company for a January cyanide spill that devastated its rivers. Hungary wants compensation for the damage from Esmeralda Exploration Ltd, a Perth-based gold-mining company whose Aurul joint venture in Romania spilt some 100,000 tonnes of cyanide residue into the Somes and the Tisza rivers, officials here said. From Hungary's Tisza, the pollution flowed into Europe's second-largest river the Danube, and finally into the Black Sea, across six countries. Hungary says the spill killed 1,241 tonnes of fish in Hungary alone. Hungary's Government commissioner responsible for assessing the damage and clearing up the spill, Jallos Goellczy, informed Esmeralda's lawyers about the claim today, his office said. Esmeralda, which is currently under bankruptcy proceedings, shrugged off responsibility and claimed the damage had been exaggerated after the spill occurred as the wall of an open reservoir containing the poisonous substance broke in Romania in January. Hungary wants to enforce a claim of 29.37 billion forints during the bankruptcy procedure of Esmeralda. The claim includes Hungarian costs of averting immediate damage – including fishing out and getting rid of hundreds of tonnes of floating dead fish – damage assessment, long-term losses in the area's wildlife, expected rehabilitation costs and further economic disadvantage due to the damage, the statement said. The claim was announced after top Esmeralda officials cancelled a visit last week claiming that talks between the Governments of Hungary and Australia have not been closed. Claims filed by small enterprises and lawyers are being separately collected, and have totalled about 4 million euro, $A6.46 million, so far. Meanwhile, Hungarian Environment Minister Ferenc Ligetvari is due in Brussels on Thursday (July 13) to brief European Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstroem on Hungary's moves so far on clearing up the Tisza River, the ministry said.
18 May 2000 – Braer
The Food Standards Agency today announced that from 000 1, May 17, there are no longer any restrictions on fishing in or around the Shetland Islands after the m tanker Braer oil spill incident seven years ago. Restrictions in place in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on the landing, sale and movement of mussels and lobsters taken from a designated area of sea off the Shetland Islands have been lifted by the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health, Gisela Stuart. This action followed advice which has been agreed by the UK's Food Standards Agency. The restrictions, which included restrictions on fishing and harvesting, were put in place following the grounding of the Braer in 1993. The restrictions on fishing and harvesting in the designated area and the landing, marketing and sale in Scotland of mussels and lobsters from the designated area were lifted on May 5 by the Scottish Health Ministers. Marine Laboratory Aberdeen (MLA) has continued to measure the impact of the oil spill. The results from the 1999/2000 studies have been assessed by the Food Standards Agency which concluded that it is now safe to lift the restrictions for mussels and lobsters (Nephrops). Consumption of these shellfish from the previously restricted area no longer presents a risk to human health as a result of contamination from the Braer incident
13 May 2000 – Erika
A French judge investigating the oil spill from m tanker Erika has found that her owners were aware of structural faults in the vessel and did not do enough about it, daily Le Monde said today. It said Judge Dominique de Talance was scheduled to question later this month Antonio Pollara, the head of Panship, the company which operated the Erika, and Giuseppe Savarese, manager of Tevere Shipping which owned the tanker. In a previous interview with the judge, Pollara had reiterated that the vessel was safe before she sank in December, causing heavy fuel pollution of hundreds of kilometres of French beaches, the newspaper said. He confirmed that the 25-year-old Maltese-registered vessel had several times undergone repairs to the same section of the hull which eventually cracked and caused the vessel to break up. But Pollara said he was unaware of a report by the vessel's Indian captain Karun Mathur, who reported advanced corrosion on the bulkhead when he took possession of the vessel in October 1999, the newspaper said. Italian ship safety inspector RINA also noted persistent corrosion during an inspection in November 1999 and requested extra repairs before February 2000, according to the newspaper. "Mr Pollara replied that RINA had nonetheless supplied the navigation certificate and that it could therefore continue to sail," it said. A Transport Ministry report in January found that a corroded bulkhead was probably the main cause of the sinking of the Erika. France has called for tighter international shipping safety standards in the wake of the ecological disaster. Up to 15,000 tonnes of thick, viscous fuel oil are still believed to be trapped in the holds of the tanker, threatening to mar the crucial summer season for the region's already devastated tourism industry. TotalFina, which chartered the Erika, has agreed to start the difficult operation of pumping out the oil in the next few months.
17 May 2000 – A French senate commission has criticised the master of m tanker Erika, Captain Krun Mathur, for not alerting the French authorities sooner to the gravity of the vessel's plight. Had he informed the authorities sooner, the commission claimed, the navy could have intervened to prevent the disaster taking on the proportions it did. The commission made known its view after a meeting in Brest with the marine prefect for the French Atlantic zone, Rear Admiral Yves Naquet-Radiguet. Senior commission member, Henri de Richemont, said after the meeting: "We regret that the navy did not dispose in time of information concerning the state of the tanker." "The master should have given the information about the cracks (in the vessel's hull) from the beginning." And he added: "He could have reduced speed and waited for the arrival of a tug." The commission's view runs counter to that expressed by the marine accident bureau team in its preliminary report into the disaster in January. The team said that it had no particular comments to make regarding the reactions of the Erika's crew. "It did what it could with the equipment of which it disposed," it said. "Different behaviour would doubtless not have modified the course of events." The senate commission, which was set up in early March to inquire into the circumstances and causes of the disaster, found no fault with the role played by the French navy in dealing with the disaster and the subsequent pollution it caused. "The Polmar plan (marine anti-pollution procedure) functioned in remarkable fashion both in the rescue of the 26 crew members and in limiting the damage to the coast," said Mr de Richemont. Referring to pumping operations carried out at sea under French navy supervision, he said: "It is the first time in the history of marine pollution that heavy fuel oil has been successfully pumped 1,200 tonnes." The commission indicated, however, that it considered that shore anti-pollution operations could have been better organised. Commission chairperson, Anne Heinis, said that shore operations needed to have a "sole interface," equivalent to the marine prefecture, which could take charge of operations without having to take account of local authority boundaries. The commission is to pursue its mission of information with a visit to the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels on May 29. Meanwhile, Dominique de Talance, the examining magistrate in charge of the judicial inquiry into the disaster, is expected to the meet the Erika's owner, Guiseppe Savarese, and Antonio Pollara, head of the vessel's manager, Panship Management & Services, on May 25 and 26. It was recently reported that she had charged both men by post with causing marine pollution and endangering human life.
18 May 2000 – Preparation of m tanker Erika for the start of efforts to recover the 12,000 to 15,000 tonnes of heavy fuel contained in her sunken fore and aft sections will begin early next month. The TotalFinaElf oil group has said that the vessels taking part in the operation are due on site, some 70km off the Brittany coast, on May 6. Subsequently, divers and remotely operated vehicles will install safety valves on the hull of the vessel and place pumping equipment nearby. Pumping proper is expected to begin at the start of July on the fore section of the vessel. Recovery of the oil in the aft section, which lies some 10km distant, is scheduled for the month of August. A total of seven vessels, including two diving support vessels, a pollution protection vessel and a vessel equipped with pumping equipment, will be involved in the operation. The contract for recovery of the oil was warded last month to the offshore contractors, Coflexip Stena Offshore and Stolt Comex Seaway.
26 May 2000 – Three French naval officers have been put under investigation over their alleged failure to react in time to the wreck of m tanker Erika, judicial sources said today. The sources said the three staff of a maritime office in western France were being investigated for "wilfully failing to take measures to battle a disaster." The three were identified as Captain de Monval, Naval Chief Administrator Velut and Commander Geay. They were on duty at the Brest maritime office on December 11 and 12, when the Erika broke up and sank. The vessel's first distress call came on the afternoon of December 11. The Brittany newspaper "Quest France" said Admiral Yves Naquet-Radiguet, the maritime prefect for France's Atlantic coast, was not informed of the tanker's plight until the morning of December 12, when she had already split in two. However, a Defence Ministry spokesman said: "In the current state of investigations … there is nothing to show the officers failed in any way to carry out their duties. Looking for responsibility is logical and normal … the Defence Ministry will take charge of the officials' legal defence." Shortly after the sinking of the tanker, which was carrying 25,000 tonnes of oil, authorities said they saw no risk of a slick washing ashore. They soon had to revise their opinion and communities along France's Atlantic seaboard are still trying to clean their shorelines of oil. Magistrates have already placed the tanker's Indian master Karufi Mathur under investigation for maritime pollution and putting the lives of others at risk. The tanker's owners and the firm charged with maintaining the vessel are being investigated on the same grounds as well as for failing to take sufficient measures to fight the spill. Being placed under investigation in France is one step short of being charged and does not automatically imply that a trial will be held. The French Government has launched an inquiry into the sinking of the Erika and has demanded changes to laws regulating tanker trade.
28 May 2000 – The first of five pollution-fighting vessels is due to arrive in Brest tomorrow to prepare to pump out tons of viscous fuel oil still lying in the hold of the sunken m tanker Erika. Franco-Belgiafi oil company TotalFinaElf is bringing in the vessels as part of a massive clean-up programme after the Erika broke up and sank last December. As part of a clean-up operation costing the company some $70 million, TotalFinaElf is now starting work on removing the oil still lying in the hull of the sunken tanker. M tanker British Shield is due to arrive in Brest tomorrow for a week of equipment tests and will remain at sea throughout the entire pumping operation, the oil company said. Four more vessels, plus teams of divers and underwater sea robots, will set to work soon after, it added. "The recovery itself of the cargo should take place at the end of June with the arrival in Brest of m drilling vessel Crystal Ocean," TotalFina said in a statement. The tanker is lying in two pieces under the sea.
1 June 2000 – The small flotilla of vessels, which will be taking part in efforts to recover the cargo of m tanker Erika over the next four months, has begun to gather in Brest, which is serving as shore base for the operation. M tanker British Shield arrived in Brest on Monday (May 29), followed on Tuesday by her support m tug Anglian Duke. British Shield, which has a 20 member crew and is equipped with two 400m floating booms, is testing her pumping and containment equipment in Brest this week, before going out to the wreck site, where she will stay throughout the recovery operation, with the mission to prevent accidental pollution while work is in progress. One of two dynamic-positioning, diving support ships, Seaway Kestrel, is also due in Brest this week, while the second, d-e diving maintenance support vessel CSO Constructor, is to go directly on site. Seaway Kestrel is to work on the forward section of the Erika, which, because it is lying hull up, is expected to be easier for divers to work on. The vessel is due to leave the site at the end of this month (June), moreover, once preparation of the wreck for pumping has been completed. Divers from the CSO Constructor, who will be working on the aft section, some 10km distant, will have a more difficult task. They will have to clear piping and other debris from the deck of the wreck before preparing her for pumping. The vessel will be staying on site for the duration of operations, which are expected to last until the end of September. Following installation of some 40 safety valves on the two sunken sections of the Erika and the positioning of pumping equipment on the seabed, pumping proper is due to get under way at the end of this month or at the start of next month, when m drill vessel Crystal Ocean, is due on site. The two sections of the Erika are lying in 120m of water, some 70km off the coast of southern Brittany. They are thought to contain between 12,000 and 15,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil between them out of an original cargo of 25,000 tonnes. TotalFinaElf has indicated that pumping will be in progress on the forward section of the vessel throughout July and then on the aft section in August. The contract for the operation has been awarded to the offshore contractors, Coflexip Stena Offshore and Stolt Comex Seaway.
5 June 2000 – France has started preparing to pump out the 12,000-15,000 tonnes of oil remaining in the tanks of m tanker Erika. The first of about eight vessels involved in preparations arrived in Brest last week to load equipment. During this month about 40 holes will be made in the tanker's broken sections. Equipment to render the oil more fluid will be installed around the wreck and flexible pipes will connect it with surface pumping equipment. M drill ship Crystal Ocean will begin pumping once preparations are complete. The pumping is expected to start next month and be completed in September. It will cost TotalFinaElf about FF500 million ($72 million).
19 June 2000 – Teams of divers working round the clock at a depth of 120m are preparing a unique and highly specialised feat of undersea engineering to remove 12,000 tonnes of heavy fuel from the sunken m tanker Erika. The mission to pump out the holds of the vessel, which lies in two halves 70km off the coast of Brittany, is the biggest of its kind ever attempted, and carries the constant risk of setting off a second catastrophic spill. The pumping operation is due to start in about two weeks and, before that, two crews of nine divers each are clearing the hulls of the Erika and inserting 48 insulated valves known as "hot taps." The divers, mainly British, are working in "saturation," which means they do not undergo the time-consuming decompression necessary for a return to the surface but instead live inside pressure chambers on board two support vessels. The vessels use a system known as dynamic positioning to remain static over the two halves of the wreck – which are 10km apart – with an on-board computer using information from satellites and acoustic beacons on the sea-bottom to give commands to directional thrusters. Meanwhile, a flotilla of other vessels is assembling, including a pumping vessel, a tanker to take on the oil, clear-up vessels in case of accidents and a navy task-force to ensure the zone is kept clear of passing shipping. Experts said that, while there have been a few similar operations in the past, none has ever been undertaken on a tanker of this size or within such a short time frame. Once they have perforated the hulls, the divers' task is to attach a "mixing module," which will introduce a chemical to the oil – at low temperature like a thick paste – and turn it into a liquid that can be pumped. A second "pumping" module will be installed on the sea-floor, which will draw off the oil via pressure variation and then feed it up to the surface using a conventional screw-type pump. The operation will be conducted using two unmanned submarines – remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) – equipped with cameras and mechanical arms that can be controlled with a joy-stick on board the support vessel. The cost of the mission, Fr500 million, is being paid by TotalFinaElf.
27 June 2000 – A marine salvage team is poised to start pumping an estimated 18,000 tons of heavy oil from the wreck of m tanker Erika. If all goes as planned, the vessel's tanks could be dry in three months. Government officials overseeing the project acknowledge the danger of additional leaks. Chief concerns are the wreck's instability, unpredictable weather and technical difficulties in handling thick oil. M drilling vessel Crystal Ocean arrived at the wreck site today and set the stage for pumping to begin this week, said officials with TotalFinaElf. Crystal Ocean joined four other vessels already at the site about 40 miles offshore. Last week divers drilled holes in the fore and aft hulls to install dozens of valves and connect hoses leading to the surface. Once pumped from the wreck, the recovered oil is to be shipped to holding tanks on shore. Unmanned, robot submarines are being used for some jobs. Chemicals will be injected into the wreck's tanks to thin the oil for easier pumping. And the project's three-level safety system is designed to immediately seal leaking equipment underwater and corral any oil that reaches the surface. Last week the Government's tourism agency declared that most beaches have been adequately cleaned in time for the summer vacation season. Nevertheless the mop-up which began in January continues in the Morbihan, Loire-Atlantique and Vendee areas.
3 July 2000 – Anti-pollution crews, today, began pumping out tons of fuel oil from the hull of m tanker Erika. Four vessels, chartered by TotalFinaElf, charterer of Erika, and two French naval vessels, took their positions, off the coast, for the three-month operation. A tanker was due to join them in a few days, local maritime officials said. The vessels are due to recover oil in the forward section of Erika, about 45 miles off the Brittany coast. The stern section will be pumped out in August. The operation should be completed in September. The clean-up operation along the coast has almost cleared beaches but left sticky black blotches along rock-covered stretches. The pumping operation will cost TotalFinaElf about $70 million.
13 July 2000 – Following beach inspections and water quality analyses by the French authorities, over 95 per cent of beaches along the affected coastline have been declared safe and are open to the public. Final clean-up measures, where still necessary, will not be resumed until September. The main tourist beaches will, however, be monitored on a daily basis by small teams of local personnel throughout the season. A small number of beaches in the most heavily contaminated areas will remain closed for the summer while clean-up operations continue. Operations to remove the oil from the sunken bow section of Erika got underway on July 3; to date some 3,300 tonnes of oil have been removed. Pumping of the oil from both parts of the wreck is expected to be completed by October 2000. The Claims Handling Office in Lorient has so far received over 1,100 claims for compensation plus nearly 500 supplementary claims. At the 8th Session of the Executive Committee of the 1992 International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund on July 5, it was decided that payments by the 1992 Fund should for the time being be limited to 50 per cent of the amount of the loss or damage actually suffered by the claimants. The level of payments will be re-examined at the next session of the Executive Committee in October.
16 July 2000 – Vessels finished pumping out thousands of tonnes of fuel oil today from the hull of sunken m tanker Erika. Organisers of the costly clean-up operation told reporters that work would shortly start on removing oil from the stern of the tanker. TotalFinaElf said in a statement that around 5,700 tonnes of fuel oil were removed from holds in the front of the tanker. They expect to find around 6,000 tonnes more in the stern. The whole pumping operation was scheduled to wind up in September, but work is running ahead of schedule. The pumping operation is expected to cost TotalFinaElf some 500 million francs ($70 million).
26 May 2000 – River Rhine
Up to 10,000 litres of heating oil spilt into the River Rhine today after an accident in the river harbour of Kleinhueningen near Basel, Basel police said. Peter Sauter of the Rhine shipping authority in Basel said the estimates of the amount of oil had been revised downwards. "It is difficult to say, there are thousands of litres but less than we first thought because the mouth of the pipeline was flattened and not entirely open. I'd say between 5,000 and 10,000," he said. "Unfortunately, the river was agitated and the diesel oil quickly spilt into a fine diluted and big film on the water. It is impossible to contain that and try to pump it up," Sauter added, saying the emergency services had intervened rapidly to stop the gap. "There is not going to be a massive death of fish," he said. An international Rhine alarm was issued as the river flows through Germany, France and The Netherlands before reaching the North Sea. Police said the accident occurred about 12.00, UTC, while the Dutch-registered barge Discovery was pumping oil into a tank beside the river. A Belgian cargo vessel passed too close to the river bank, creating a big wave which pushed the Discovery a few metres away and ruptured the pipeline used for the oil transfer. "The oil went to Germany and is now in a canal in France," Sauter said. A spokesman for Germany's water protection police said: "There is no danger for Germany because we have closed the gates. The biggest danger is for Switzerland and France." In the French Rhine port of Strasbourg, river authorities said the spilled oil was now mostly on a canal running parallel with the Rhine between the towns of Kembs and Ottmarsheim. River authority official Alain Robert jot said that he believed the spill, narrow but 10km long, would dissolve quickly and evaporate without causing notable ecological damage.
27 May 2000 – Up to 10,000 litres of heating oil that spilt into the River Rhine near the Swiss city of Basel yesterday caused no damage to the environment, officials said today. Peter Sauter of the Rhine Shipping Authority in Basel said the amount of oil that was spilled after an accident in the nearby river harbour of Kleinhuening was too little to cause any pollution. "There is no danger. The volume of oil that spilt into the River Rhine was not big enough to cause any damage," Sauter said. "There is no risk of pollution or of harm to the fish in the river." Sauter said an international environmental alarm issued after the accident on the river, which flows through Germany, France and The Netherlands before reaching the North Sea, was no longer valid.
8 June 2000 – Blackman Township, Michigan, USA
An underground pipeline ruptured yesterday, spilling thousands of gallons of gasoline into a drain that carried it to the Grand River, authorities said. Residents living within a four-square-mile area of the leak in Blackman Township, about 80 miles west of Detroit, were ordered to evacuate their homes, and Gov. John Engler declared a local state of emergency. No injuries were reported, but officials said it could be two or three days before residents would be allowed to return. The evacuation area included 450 homes in two subdivisions just north of Jackson. Between 50,000 and 100,000 gallons of gasoline leaked from a Wolverine Pipeline Co. Storage facility and into ditches and creeks, officials said. The cause was not immediately known. The leak was detected about 10.30 when a drop in pressure was recorded at a metering station along the Illinois-to-Detroit pipeline, Jackson County Administrator Chet Taraskiewicz said. Gasoline rose to ground level, then began flowing into the storm drain that eventually carried it to the Grand River, he said. He said the leak was closed off and cleanup was underway by 14.30. Electrical and natural gas services were cut off to nearby homes and businesses, and residents were told to avoid using generators, which could produce sparks that might trigger an explosion. Rural residents were also urged not to use water from wells. Taraskiewicz said it was not known late yesterday whether the spill had affected drinking water supplies. He said police were stationed at the leak site and along the drain's one-and-a-half-mile-length leading to the Grand River to keep away anything that might cause a spark that could ignite the gasoline or its heavy fumes.
8 June 2000 – An underground transmission pipeline ruptured today, spilling thousands of gallons of gasoline into a drain that carried it to the Grand River, authorities said. Residents living within a one-square-mile area of the leak site in Blackman Township, just north of Jackson and about 80 miles east of Detroit, were asked to voluntarily evacuate their homes after the 09.00 spill, said County Administrator Chet Taraskiewicz. Gov. John Engler declared a local state of emergency. He did not know how long the evacuation would last. No injuries were reported and a clean-up was under way, Taraskiewicz said. The cause of the leak, which spilled between 15,000 and 100,000 gallons of gasoline, was not immediately known, Taraskiewicz said. Gasoline rose to ground level, then began flowing into the storm drain that eventually carried it to the Grand River. Electrical and natural gas services were cut off to nearby homes and businesses, and residents in nearby rural areas were urged not to use water from private wells.
9 July 2000 – Hundreds of people remained forbidden from going home today as crews cleaned up thousands of gallons of gasoline spilled two days earlier when an underground pipeline ruptured. Residents of about 450 homes were evacuated Wednesday (June 7). Deputy County Administrator Randy Treacher said clean-up crews were expected to remove most of the gasoline visible on the surface by tonight. He said it was uncertain when the roughly 1,200 evacuated residents would be allowed to return home. The cause of the pipeline rupture remained unknown. The leak spilled up to 100,000 gallons of gasoline into a drain that carried an undetermined amount of the fuel to the Grand River, authorities said. Bob McEwen, who lives near the drain, said at least some of the gasoline made its way into a nearby creek.
12 June 2000 – Repairs to a ruptured pipeline near Jackson that provides about 30 per cent of the state's gasoline were delayed today while workers try to clear gasoline near the pipe, officials said. The 16-inch-diameter line that runs from Chicago to Detroit may not be fixed until Thursday (June 15), and that is likely to continue contributing to soaring gas prices. Officials at Wolverine Pipe Line Co., which owns the system, had originally hoped the pipe would be fixed by the weekend. A section of the pipe west of Jackson was reopened at 80 per cent pressure yesterday after workers inspected a valve like the one that failed last week in Blackman Township. Also today, tanker trucks began hauling fuel from Jackson and Niles to stations in south-east Michigan. Workers must drain gasoline from the groundwater before they can reach the broken stopple valve that regulates flow, said Jim Sygo, emergency management co-ordinator for the state Department of Environmental Quality. The company's repair plan must be approved by the US Department of Transportation's Office of Pipeline Safety, and the repair must be inspected before the line can be reopened. While the repair and clean-up continue, the last of the 500 home owners evacuated when the line ruptured returned home this afternoon. Today, officials downgraded the estimate of gasoline spilled from a maximum of 100,000 gallons to 75,000 gallons. Nearly 53,000 gallons have been recovered and more has evaporated, he said.
14 June 2000 – As workers yesterday continued repairs on a ruptured gasoline pipeline which provides about 30 per cent of the gasoline supply for Michigan, officials said a quick reaction to the spill prevented a larger disaster. Repairs to the 16-inch pipeline should be completed by tomorrow, allowing gasoline to flow from Chicago to Detroit for the first time in more than a week, said Ron Embry, a chemical engineer for Wolverine Pipe Line Co., which owns the system. Workers caught much of the 75,000 gallons of spilled gasoline before it reached ground and surface water, said Ralph Dollhopf, a co-ordinator for the US Environmental Protection Agency. The Grand River did not sustain heavy damage, he said. Although the Jackson County Health Department did not believe any of the ground water or water wells were polluted by the spill, the department was providing free bottled water to residents, said Ted Westmeier, a county health officer. Most residents of the 500 homes which were evacuated had returned home by Monday (June 12). Officials were still investigating the safety of two homes near a pond which had heavy gasoline seepage. Governor John Engler yesterday lifted the local state of emergency he declared last week for Jackson County's Blackman Township. Officials said that environmental testing would continue around the area. Wolverine officials had originally planned to get the pipe fixed by last weekend (June 10-11), but that deadline had to be pushed back. "The work is going a little slower than we had hoped, but with safety being as important as it is, we are committed to doing the work at the pace it's at," Embry said. The company's repair plan must be approved by the US Department of Transportation's Office of Pipeline Safety, and the repair must be inspected before the line can be reopened, officials said. Neither county officials nor Wolverine representatives have estimated the total cost of the spill.
8 June 2000 – Posavina
M oil/chemical tanker Posavina (27,533 gt, built 1998) was this morning involved in a collision with a tug which led to the spill of 1,000 gallons of fuel oil into Boston harbour. The vessel had discharged at the Mobil terminal and was moving away from the berth when the tug slammed against her side, puncturing a fuel tank. US Coast Guard Lt Cmdr Briggs said that the flow of oil into the harbour had now been stopped and booms had been put in place to prevent the spill spreading further. Mariners were being notified to avoid the area.
8 June 2000 – A tug struck and ruptured m oil/chemical tanker Posavina, causing an estimated 50,000 gallons of heating oil to spill into Boston harbour today, the US Coast Guard said. "The booms are all deployed," Coast Guard Lt j.g. Rebecca Montleon said. "There is some seepage under the booms, but they are all deployed." The tanker was leaving from the Tosco Marine Terminal in East Boston when the tug struck and punctured her port side two feet above the waterline at 08.30, the Coast Guard said. "That particular fuel tank was holding 400 tonnes, or about 112,000 gallons, of No. 6 fuel oil," Montleon said. "We estimate that 50,000 gallons spilled." By shifting the remaining cargo on Posavina, the crew was able to list the vessel to the starboard side so that the spillage was stopped, she said. Neither vessel was in danger of sinking, the Coast Guard said, and there were no injuries reported.
8 June 2000 – M oil/chemical tanker Posavina was struck by m tug Alex C. (192 gt, built 1952). Approximately 50,000 gallons of No.6 fuel oil was spilt. Booms have been set up and clean-up is still going on.
9 June 2000 – M tug Alex C. guiding m oil/chemical tanker Posavina from her dock struck and punctured the vessel causing some 50,000 gallons of oil to pour into Boston Harbor, US Coast Guard officials said yesterday. Alex C., owned and operated by Bay State Towing, was helping Posavina leave dock at Tosco Marine Terminal in East Boston when the tug struck and ruptured the tanker's port side two feet above the waterline at 08.30, the Coast Guard said. Slick sheen remained on the surface. "The booms are all deployed," Coast Guard Lt j.g. Rebecca Montleon said. "There is some seepage under the booms, but they are all deployed." The Coast Guard tested the crews for drugs and alcohol and interviewed witnesses as investigators tried to determine what caused the collision. Montleon estimated that it would be "three or four days before the initial clean-up is completed."
10 June 2000 – Some 50,000 gallons of home heating oil spilled into Boston Harbour, after m tug Alex C. struck and holed m oil/chemical tanker Posavina, which she was guiding out of port. Neither vessel was in danger of sinking, nobody was hurt in the accident and there was no reported impact on wildlife, according to the US Coast Guard. However, the Chelsea River was closed to navigation and this was likely to remain the case over the three or four days needed to clean up the spill, depending on weather conditions. The incident occurred early Thursday morning (June 8) while Alex C. was assisting Posavina to leave the Tosco Marine Terminal in East Boston. As a result of the collision, Posavina's port side sustained an 18-inch by 24-inch gash about two feet above the water-line. "That particular fuel tank was holding 400 tonnes of number six fuel oil. We estimated that 50,000 gallons spilled," said US Coast Guard Lieutenant Rebecca Montleon. By shifting the remaining cargo, the crew was able to list the vessel to starboard, preventing further spillage of the heavy oil. Nevertheless, a slick sheen remained on the surface, necessitating the deployment of some 5,200 feet of booms. Six vacuum trucks were sent to the scene and continued to work overnight. The US Coast Guard tested the crews for drugs and alcohol and interviewed witnesses in its efforts to determine the causes of the spill. Posavina was detained in Boston, pending completion of the investigation.
12 June 2000 – The Coast Guard reports that a tremendous amount of progress has been made to contain the largest oil spill ever in Boston Harbour, but there's still a lot of work to do. The Coast Guard held a briefing today, and even environmentalists applauded the response. Four days after the spill, Coast Guard officials said nearly 140,000 gallons of oil and water have been removed from the Chelsea Creek. Much of the 58,000 gallons of the vessel's fuel has been removed, but a surface sheen still lingers and parts of the shoreline seem to be painted black. NewsCenter 5's Cara Birrittieri reports that the only documented impact on wildlife was the death of a large number of jellyfish. Environmentalists said thousands of moon jellyfish died. Federal, state and local authorities said it could take a long time for the sensitive marsh areas to recover. They are also deciding how much intervention is necessary, noting there comes a time when too many people in the harbour would be doing more harm than good by driving oil into the root system. Officials said the cause of Thursday's (June 8) spill, which occurred when a tug-boat collided with m oil/chemical tanker Posavina, is still under investigation. The Coast Guard is scheduled to allow the Posavina to leave her dock tonight. She will be anchored out in the harbour while she's permanently repaired.
12 June 2000 – Oil/chemical tanker Posavina was yesterday permitted to depart the Tosco Terminal and anchor in the outer harbour. The first stage of oil spill response activity was completed and as of June 11, 137,000 gallons of oil/water mixture had been collected, about half of which was fuel oil, according to the vessel's operator. Boston's Chelsea River has been closed to traffic for the duration of the clean-up operation.
22 June 2000 – M tug Alex C. that gouged a hole in m oil/chemical tanker Posavina in Chelsea Creek June 8, causing the worst oil spill in Boston Harbour's history, had been operating with a rusty, unprotected steel protrusion on her side for six weeks before the incident, investigators said yesterday. Coast Guard officials said a section of the rubber fender designed to keep the bulge, or "padeye," from puncturing other vessels dangled uselessly at the tug's side during the crash. "That is not something you generally like to see protruding from a tug," Capt. Joel R. Whitehead, the Coast Guard port captain in Boston, said at a press conference in which he offered a preliminary review of the episode, but no official finding of fault. Richard H. Pettingell, an attorney for the tug company, said last night: "The fendering system on the tug was fully adequate for what it was designed to do." Whitehead said that right after the spill, the Coast Guard investigated the tug, and a second tug involved in the episode, tug Little Joe ( 175 gt, built 1960), and ordered both vessels off the water because of safety violations. The tugs, owned by Bay State Towing Inc., Boston, lacked up-to-date lifesaving, fire-fighting and sanitation devices, the agency said, and Alex C. had oil in her bilges. Whitehead also said Little Joe, one of three tugs manoeuvring near Posavina at the time of the spill, was masterless just before the collision. Whitehead said the master of Alex C. told investigators he was trying to move to the aid of his sister tug, which was losing her position near the tanker, when he struck the tanker's fuel tank. Clean-up workers and Coast Guard officials say they have recovered 90 per cent of the 58,000 gallons of spilled fuel.
23 June 2000 – The worst fuel oil spill in Boston Harbour's history has also resulted in the most successful clean-up, Coast Guard officials said yesterday. More than 89 per cent of the 59,000 gallon oil spill, which occurred June 8, has been removed from Chelsea Creek as well as its shorelines, wetlands and salt marshes. Environmentalists yesterday agreed with the Coast Guard's assessment, applauding the Boston Spill Cooperative and the Coast Guard for their quick response. "The recovery operation was spectacular. We were able to sustain substantial life along the creek," said Bruce Berman, an environmentalist with Save the Harbor/Save the Bay. On a boat tour for reporters yesterday, Coast Guard Captain Joel R. Whitehead noted some vegetation damage along the salt marsh shoreline, but there "appears to be no immediate impact" to the environment. There have been more than 100 people working 14 hours a day removing oil residue, said Lt Commander Wyman W. Briggs, who has been overseeing the clean-up operation. So far, crews have removed about 135 tons of oily gravel and rock, along with 430 cubic yards of oil-soaked absorbent material, from the area. Whitehead did not know how much has been spent on the operation so far, but the owner of the tanker (m oil/chemical tanker Posavina), Humboldt Itda, has agreed to pay for it. The waterway, which is the sole supply route for Logan International Airport's aviation fuel suppliers, was closed for three days. The river still remains closed to recreational vessels.
15 June 2000 – OGC America
Norwegian protection and indemnity club Gard stands to pay a $2.89-million fine to Ukrainian authorities for environmental damage caused by a recent oil spill. M LPG carrier OGC America was reported to have spilled 8.8 tonnes of fuel oil at Yuzhny on April 17. The vessel was arrested at the time. Ukraine claimed the vessel's master was "too late" in notifying shore services, and that 3km of coastline in the Adzhalykskiy estuary was polluted. The spill was contained, and the vessel released on bail, but the ecological prosecutor launched a criminal case. The Yuzhny town court earlier this week ruled in the prosecutor's favour and imposed the fine. Patrick Leahy of Gard said the Ukrainian system of determining the fine was based on the amount of oil collected, which was then plugged into a pre-set formula. Gard's own surveyor was said to have determined that only 46 per cent of the material collected was pure oil, but the local Ukrainian authorities put the figure at 95 per cent. The latter figure was accepted by the court. Gard now has ten days in which to appeal. Mr Leahy said the club's local correspondent had been asked to provide a cost-benefit appraisal on this aspect, but Gard was resigned to paying up. The OGC America is entered with Gard through her commercial manager, Oslo-based Havinvest. A spokesman for Havinvest said the incident was a "minor one," involving a small pitting in the vessel's bulkhead which had allowed fuel to leak into the ballast water. He said bad weather in the harbour at the time prevented the crew from seeing the contents of the ballast water discharge. The spokesman said the area was then cleaned up. The vessel was subsequently repaired to class society Det. Norske Veritas' satisfaction, and had called at Yuzhny in early June. She was boarded and inspected, and was said to have passed muster.
20 June 2000 – Courland Spit, Baltic Sea
News is filtering out slowly, but as of June 2 almost 60km of the Baltic Sea's 73km-long Courland Spit was under siege from an oil spill originally estimated at 9,261 gallons (31.5 tonnes), but increasing. The narrow 0.4 to 1.5km-wide spit – mostly sand dunes and pine forest – begins on the Russian coast 12km north of Kaliningrad. It passes into Lithuanian territory at its halfway point and ends near Klaipeda forming a narrow strait – the outlet to 34.8 17.4km Courland Lagoon. According to a staffer at the Lithuanian Mission to the United Nations, Courland Spit is "one of the most beautiful places in Lithuania," and has been proposed for UNESCO's Heritage List, currently composed of 630 such places around the world. The first oil slicks reached shore on May 22 on beaches near Zelenogradsk, Russia, but they soon began moving north along the spit. Preliminary samples indicated they were composed of heavy fuel oil, but an unidentified laboratory called it sludge. The source is still undetermined, but tankers leaving Kaliningrad were suspect from the start. Authorities in Klaipeda identified three possible tankers – one flying a Panamanian flag and two flying Liberian flags – but efforts to collect oil samples before the vessels set to sea were unsuccessful. Meanwhile, oil on Courland Spit beaches was up to 30cm thick. Public workers, border guards, and school children were performing clean-up operations, but the process was environmentally dangerous. The oiled section of beach was very narrow as little as 400m. Removing any sand/oil mixture could have left it vulnerable to storms, enabling the sea to break through, making Courland Spit an island and harming the ecological balance of the brackish Courland Lagoon with unfamiliar amounts of saltwater.
26 June 2000 – Edward E. Gillen 111
A diesel fuel spill on the Kinnickinnic River tied up US Coast Guard and Milwaukee Fire Department crews for hours today as they attempted to contain and clean up thousands of gallons from the slick. The spill took place shortly after noon today as a tug (m tug Edward E. Gillen III, 97 gt, built 1988) attempted a U-turn to pick up a barge near Skipper Bud's Marina and the Kinnickinnic Ave. overpass. While manoeuvring in three to four feet of water, the tug hit an object, opening an eight-inch gash in her hull, said Paul Leezer, a conservation warden with the state Department of Natural Resources. The unknown object ripped through the tug's nearly full 5,000-gallon fuel tank, officials said. The amount of fuel that spilled from the tank was not immediately known. Leezer said it was doubtful the spill would create any major environmental hazards, such as fish kills. The Coast Guard helped contain spillage from the tug by placing floating booms around the spill and near the area where the river leads to the Port of Milwaukee. A private company was called in to siphon the fuel off the top of the water. And the tug's owner, Gillen Co., was sending a diver to patch the hole in the tug. The river remained passable this afternoon for the few boats that went out on the water. London, June 26 – Following received from Coast Guard Cleveland: M tug Edward E. Gillen III struck a submerged object and holed her diesel fuel tank while on the Kinnickinnic River. The resulting hole leaked 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel into the water before the hole was plugged. Marine Safety Office Milwaukee placed an 18-inch containment boom around the tug and station Milwaukee towed some diversionary boom downriver to collect pockets of pooling diesel. Mobilised sufficient equipment for round the clock removal. Heavy concentration of marine grade diesel trapped within multiple contained areas. Removed 5,800 gallons of diesel from damaged port fuel tank due to ineffectiveness of temporary repair, soft patch. Estimated 5,000 gallons of diesel/water mixture removed from contained areas. Contractor expended 340 feet of sorbent boom and 400 pads to date. Case pends.
27 June 2000 – Clean-up efforts continued today after as much as 1,500 gallons of diesel fuel spilled into the Kinnickinnic River when the fuel tank of m tug Edward E. Gillen III was ripped open, officials said. The spill, which happened yesterday afternoon near Skipper Bud's Marina and the Kinnickinnic Ave. overpass, occurred when Edward E.Gillen III attempted a U-turn and hit an object in the water. An eight-inch gash in the tug's fuel tank leaked as much as 1,500 gallons of No. 2 diesel fuel, a spokesman for the US Coast Guard said today. Clean-up efforts continued today, and at least 1,200 gallons were recovered, the Coast Guard said. Residual pockets of oil remained in a few locations along the river, and the clean-up will continue until Coast Guard pollution investigators determine that the area is free of recoverable oil. The spill has not harmed fish or birds in the area, but Coast Guard personnel will continue monitoring the area for environmental damage, the spokesman said. Boaters travelling in the Kinnickinnic River were cautioned to avoid striking the oil containment booms.
23 June 2000 – Treasure
M bulk carrier Treasure sank early this morning six miles north-west of 41 Melkbospunt on South Africa's Cape coast. The vessel was carrying 1,300 tonnes of heavy fuel oil and 90 tonnes of gas oil in addition to a full cargo of ore. A light sheen of gas oil was visible this morning around the wreck site but not of heavy oil. The vessel's owners have been instructed to carry out a comprehensive dive survey of the wreck to determine the settling of the vessel on the bottom and whether the fuel tanks are still intact, as well as whether there is any threat to surface navigation. M salvage tug John Ross will remain on station and has been joined by the oil pollution abatement vessel Kuswag II, while another pollution vessel Kuswag IV has being mobilised and will be on the scene later today. A general navigation warning has been issued as the top of the vessel's mast remains visible above the surface. A launch with divers on board has left for the scene to recover any floating debris. The hatch covers are thought to have been forced off when the vessel sank and if recovered these will be sunk to remove any risk to shipping. Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, situated just beyond Melkbosstrand has been informed and has taken steps to place booms at the plant's cooling water inlet.
24 June 2000 – Pollution fears were rising last night as an oil slick two-and-a-half miles long and half a mile wide was reported after crippled m bulk carrier Treasure sank just miles off Cape Town last night. The vessel sank with a gaping hole in her starboard hull while under tow away from the port. None of the crew was injured. There were no details on the direction of the slick, which is believed to be the vessel's bunker fuel, nor of any measures taken to combat the problem. The Good Faith Shipping-owned vessel was en route from Brazil to China, with all holds laden with iron ore. A legal spokesperson for Good Faith said: "We are pulling out all the stops and hopefully there will not be too much of an environmental problem." He spoke of "considerable resources" being sent to South Africa. These were said to include a team from the International Tanker Owner's Pollution Federation (ITOPF). Despite being a dry bulk operator, Good Faith had entered the Treasure as an associate member of the oil pollution fund. Treasure was covered for P&I liabilities by J.L. Jones & Others, the fixed premium syndicate. She was classed by Bureau Veritas, although the Greek shipping company was unable to immediately provide details of her last class survey. After requesting South African search and rescue to stand by, she sailed to the 50-mile limit off the Cape coast, but weather conditions were too poor for an accurate survey. The vessel was allowed to anchor just off the port of Cape Town, where an inspection revealed a hole in the starboard fourth hold some 10m high by 19m long. Surveyors indicated the vessel was otherwise generally in fair condition. The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAM SA) ordered the vessel to discharge some 1,300 tons of bunker if repairs were to be undertaken in local waters. When this was not done by noon on Thursday (June 22) due to complex and time-consuming insurance negotiations, the maritime safety authority ordered her out of its waters because she posed a potential major pollution hazard as she had begun to sink. She sailed on Thursday afternoon, but soon had to shut down, and towage and salvage operators, Smit Pentow Marine began the tow with m salvage tug John Ross. However, the rope pulled loose of the vessel and could not be re-attached due to the adverse weather conditions and because much of the bow was under water. The Treasure sank only six-and-a-half miles off the Cape's west coast yesterday morning and only a very short distance from the national heritage site, Robben Island. SAM SA operation manager, Captain Bill Dernier confirmed that the potential pollution hazard from the vessel was substantial.
24 June 2000 – Volunteer workers collected hundreds of oil-coated penguins and prepared to scrub them clean today, a day after m bulk carrier Treasure sank off Cape Town's coast and unleashed a large oil slick. Survey teams reported small dollops of oil rising to the surface today, and a large slick extending toward nearby Robben Island. As of this afternoon, no oil had reached Cape Town's beaches. The penguins slathered with oil were being gathered from Robben Island and mainland beaches to be scrubbed clean at a rehabilitation centre run by the Southern African National Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB). The foundation expected to collect up to 1,000 oil-drenched penguins today alone. It warned that the spill could have a devastating effect on the aquatic bird population. Officials trying to contain the oil from spreading said there were some encouraging signs. "The flow is not constant and the quantities are not large," SAM SA said in a statement. "It is anticipated that the latest reports will confirm the vessel is still intact." Authorities hope oil remaining in the Treasure's fuel tanks can be pumped into another vessel.
25 June 2000 – Heavy fuel oil pollution from m bulk carrier Treasure, which sank late last week, has hit some of Cape Town's premier resort areas as well as the national heritage site, Robben Island. An estimated 100 tonnes of the 1,300 tonnes of bunker on board the vessel leaked out before divers from the pollution abatement control team, run by Smit Pentow Marine, could close off those vents not already closed by the crew before they abandoned the vessel as she began to sink in heavy seas just off Robben Island. The clean-up operation is already underway in an attempt to contain the environmental damage to this high-profile tourist area. Smit Pentow Marine, headquartered in Cape Town, has been appointed contractor to minimise the escape of bunkers from the wreck and also to remove all remaining oil from Treasure. Supply vessel Sea Carrier, owned by Smit Pentow with a six-man dive team on board, is at the site of the wreck to monitor the situation. At the time of going to press both Smit Pentow and SAM SA indicated that very little oil was coming to the surface from the wreck. The pollution control aircraft, Kuswag 7, flew over the area and confirmed this, adding that there was "no sign of sheen on the water between the wreck and Robben Island." The dive team will be on constant standby to close off any further oil leakages from the wreck until the bunkers can be pumped out, which is expected to be by the end of this week. The bunker removal operation should be successful since the vessel is only in 48m of water and is at present upright and accessible. However the ocean conditions, with very large swells and icy water, make diving around the wreck extremely dangerous. The Smit Pentow construction barge Winbuild, now en route from Durban, should arrive in Cape Town in four or five days where she will be equipped to receive the bunker oil. Tosh Moller of ITOPF has arrived in Cape Town from London to assist in providing the local authorities with specialist information on pollution abatement. South African environmental authorities have indicated that oil is coming ashore on the north-west side of Robben Island. Already over 1,000 oil-covered penguins have been removed from the island in an operation that is ongoing. Discussions are underway regarding removal of all penguins from the island to prevent the entire colony from being affected by the spill. Three of the hatch covers from Treasure have washed up on the beaches just up the north coast from Cape Town. The vessel's owners have been instructed to remove them.
26 June 2000 – A stretch of Cape Town's previously pristine coastline was coated in thick black sludge today from m bulk carrier Treasure that has also brought the city's shipping to a halt. The vessel, carrying 1,300 tons of fuel oil, sank Friday (June 23) just six miles offshore. Since then the oil has made its way steadily towards the shoreline. A huge clean-up operation was underway today, with workers loading oil-coated kelp into trucks and vacuuming up pools of sludge. At a centre run by SANCCOB, dozens of volunteers in plastic overalls cleaned the oil from the wriggling birds. The spill could affect up to 10,000 penguins, since it was the animal's breeding season and some 6,000 chicks on the island were at risk, said the foundation's chairman Paul Briton. Air surveys revealed heavy oil collecting at the mouth of the Cape Town's harbour. Booms prevented the oil from entering, but also blocked vessels from coming or going. The oil reached a stretch of coastline on the southern side of Cape Town. However, the slick has not hit the most popular beaches, though they were still considered to be under threat. The bulk of the Treasure's oil is believed to be contained in her fuel tanks, and plans were underway to pump it into another vessel. The 17-year-old vessel sank after developing a 17 10-yard hole in her hull, which had either rusted or cracked from age or stress. The vessel was too large to be towed to the harbour for repairs, and authorities ordered the vessel moved further offshore to reduce the risk of oil pollution. But after two hours under tow in heavy seas, the towrope ripped loose, and she drifted eastward and sank.
23 June 2000 – At approximately 03.00 this morning, m bulk carrier Treasure sunk in approximately 50m of water, six-and-a-half miles north west of Melkbospunt, north of Cape Town. Treasure is carrying an approximate cargo of 130,000 tonnes of iron ore and approximately 1,300 tons of fuel. The sequence of events are as follows: With Smit Pentow Marines m tug/supply vessel John Ross acting as escort, Treasure left anchorage four miles off Robben Island at 15.17 yesterday afternoon and headed due west from her position under her own steam. After two hours of steaming the convoy halted and the vessel was prepared for a dead ship tow. John Ross connected tow at 18.17, following the removal of the master of Treasure and the remaining crew members. The convoy continued due west. At 20.00 last night saw Treasure and John Ross approximately ten miles north west of Robben Island. Shortly after 20.00, the tow connection parted. The Master of John Ross, Captain Danny Betts, reported that Treasure was slowly going down by the head. After settling, Treasure began an easterly drift at approximately one knot. By 03.00, she was six-and-a-half miles north west of Melkbospunt. At this point, the bow began to disappear under the water and eventually touched bottom, settling for a short while stern-up, at a 30 degree angle. She remained in that position until 03.43 when the stern settled on the seabed in approximately 50m of water. Coordinated oil pollution clean-up operations began at first light this morning in the Mouille Point area. City of Cape Town municipal workers are to remove oiled kelp and accumulated pools of oil within the rocky areas just off the beach, making use of vacuum tanks specifically designed for this purpose. A delegation from Robben Island are meeting with the Disaster Management team later today to discuss the removal of all penguins from Robben Island in a bid to prevent the entire colony from being affected by the spill. There are reports of oil coming ashore on the north-west side of the island. Thus far, almost 1,200 oiled penguins have been removed from the island. This operation is ongoing. An early morning flight by oil pollution abatement aircraft Kuswag VII revealed heavy oil collecting at the V & A Waterfront breakwater and impacting on the Granger Bay, Mouille Point and Sea Point areas. Beach patrols along the west coast reveal clean beaches and no sign of oil or sheen close to shore. Three of the Treasure's hatches have thus far washed ashore at points near Melkbosstrand and Big Bay and owners have been instructed to remove them. Vessel Sea Carrier with a six-man dive team on board is at the site of the wreck and reports very little oil coming to the surface. The Kuswag VII aircraft pilots have confirmed this and report no sign of sheen on the water between the wreck and Robben Island. The dive team will continue to close off any oil leakage from the wreck and will continue with dive survey work. Smit Pentow Marine (Pty) Ltd have been appointed as contractors to minimise the escape of bunkers from the wreck of Treasure and, in a second phase, to remove all remaining oils from the wreck. The Port of Cape Town has been sealed off by oil pollution booms in an effort to prevent polluting of the port. Granger Bay yacht basin and the slipway at the Oceana Power Boat club have also been boomed off and boat and yacht owners are advised that they use these access points at their own risk. Slightly north-west of Robben Island, a large patch of emulsified oil has been reported, approximately 1km long and 400m wide, half a mile offshore. It is moving in a south-westerly direction past the island.
26 June 2000 – Cape Town port is still closed, due to the oil boom, preventing oil from m bulk carrier Treasure entering the port, remaining in place. Divers are carrying out a survey of the bunker fuel still left in the wreck of m bulk carrier Treasure, which sank off Cape Town late last week, to assess how to recover the oil. At present there is no further heavy fuel coming to the ocean surface although the pollution control plane, Kuswag VII, reported "a slight sheen" on the water surface around the site of the wreck. According to Dave Main, marine director at Smit Pentow Marine, the divers are in the process of surveying the bunker tanks and engine-room to identify where the remaining oil is and where the oil that has leaked out of the tanks has collected in the engine-room and other parts of the super-structure. Although the weather is calm, water surge around the wreck makes the divers' work tiring and dangerous. The Cape Town-based towage and salvage operators, and oil pollution specialists, have the contract to minimise the escape of bunkers from the wreck and also to remove all remaining oil from the Treasure. The Smit Pentow tug, John Ross, is currently en route to Durban to fetch the Winbuild, their containment tank and cargo barge that will be used to pump the remaining bunkers from the Treasure. The vessel has a six-point mooring which will enable her to be anchored directly above the Treasure for optimum operation. Winbuild is the only craft available on the entire southern African coast capable of this type of operation. Smit International, Smit Pentow's parent company in Rotterdam, has dispatched an oil recovery unit from Rotterdam that will be fitted to the Winbuild as soon as she arrives in Cape Town and lifting of the bunker is excepted to begin immediately, probably before the end of this week. At present the Albatross, an oil pollution abatement vessel that belongs to the strategic Fuel Fund, government crude importers, is sweeping oil from affected water both inside and outside the harbour. Some 3,000 oiled penguins have been removed from Robben Island, the area worst affected by the oil pollution, and are being cleaned in Cape Town before being flown up the east coast to Port Elizabeth to be released. Clean penguins are also being captured for release in Port Elizabeth. Work began today to clean up the heavy oil pollution on Robben Island, especially on the rocks around the penguin breeding colony.
27 June 2000 – Volunteers battled today to rescue several thousand penguins from an oil spill that polluted Robben Island's once pristine coastline. The island, home to about 19,000 penguins – the world's third-largest penguin colony – has been hit by an oil slick from m bulk carrier Treasure. Volunteers used nets to round up birds and herd them into ventilated cardboard boxes for transport by boat to the mainland, where they were to be cleaned. The operation to evacuate the endangered birds was expected to become one of the largest of its kind in the world. Volunteer Mike Lodge said he had captured about 600 birds since Friday. All birds on the island would be affected by the oil, Lodge said. On the mainland, about 100 volunteers cleaned and fed nearly 2,000 oil-coated birds at a rehabilitation centre run by SANCCOBs. "We're expecting at least 10,000 more," said Estelle van der Merwe, the centre's manager. Up to a third of the island's 14,000 adult penguins were sitting on eggs, and many chicks are expected to die, she said. Cleaning and rehabilitating the penguins is expected to cost at least $2.9 million. Environmental minister Valli Moosa said the shipping company would have to pay that and other clean-up costs. The air force is to fly several thousand birds unaffected by the oil about 400 miles east and release them near Port Elizabeth. It will take the penguins between ten and 12 days to swim back to Cape Town. Officials the clean-up will be finished by the time they make it back. Salvage experts hope that the 1,000 to 1,200 tons of oil estimated to remain in the vessel's tanks can be pumped into another vessel. Today, the vessel was leaking very little oil, according to authorities assessing the damage by air. Cape Town's port, which was shut yesterday to keep out the oil, reopened today.
27 June 2000 – The volume of oil that leaked out of m bulk carrier Treasure, which sank off Cape Town last week, is some four times greater than first estimated and is causing serious environmental damage to sea birds, premier Cape Town tourist areas, and the world heritage sight of Robben Island. Smit Pentow Marine, South African pollution abatement and towage and salvage specialist, indicated that it would begin attempts to remove some of the oil from the sunken vessel as soon as possible, while waiting for the arrival of the Winbuild, their containment tank and cargo barge that will be used to pump the remaining bunkers from the sunken Treasure. Director Pim Zandee said yesterday that if they could locate and pump some of the oil safely, they would do so as soon as possible as weather conditions were favourable. Reports indicated that the Cape winter storms could return by the end of the week, by which time the barge was expected to have arrived and would begin the process of "hot tapping" the remaining fuel in various sections of the vessel. SAM SA said yesterday that some 400 tons of the original 1,300 tons of oil had leaked out of the Greek-owned ship. This was established once the results had been assessed of a full audit of all the tanks, pipes and the engine-room undertaken by divers in the dangerously surging waters. According to the authority's national operations manager, Bill Dernier, the survey results showed the vessel had been severely damaged forward of hold five when she sank. "We seem to have won the battle of containing [the remaining] oil," he said, but if the weather conditions, currently favourable, worsen again there is a chance the vessel could break up. Dramatic video footage shot by the Atlatech divers showed oil leaking from the air vents in the engine-room and also from the breathers in the fuel tanks. The divers managed to staunch the flow initially with poly-plastic bagging and have now replaced this with steel blanks bolted over the vents. According to Jim Cooke, the director of Atlatech, the vessel has ruptured severely from port to starboard at number five port. He said this occurred in the sinking. This damage had not been apparent when the vessel was closely examined after she limped into Cape Town last Wednesday when a gaping 10m by 18m hole in the starboard fourth hold was discovered. Although the volume of oil that has leaked from the Treasure is only a sixth of what leaked from the Apollo C. in 1996, the most recent major oil disaster on the Cape coast, the environmental damage has been substantially worse. Estimates of between 95 per cent and 98 per cent of the 14,000 endangered jackass penguins that breed on Robben Island are covered in oil, as are almost all of only 1,500 breeding pairs of the highly endangered bank cormorant.
29 June 2000 – Fears are growing that the owners and insurers of m bulk carrier Treasure may be able – quite legally – to avoid paying the full clean-up costs of last week's serious oil spill in South Africa. Local maritime law allows for limitations of liability based on the gross tonnage. Lawyers acting for her owners, Good Faith Shipping, yesterday confirmed that the vessel was properly insured for oil pollution liability with a Lloyd's of London P&I underwriter, understood to be J.L. Jones & Others. Good Faith has agreed to settle liability on claims in terms of the relevant South African legislation. However, the owner's representatives added: "The owners are not in a position to comment on the amount of the limitation at this time." Although there is a cap of $500m on all P&I club oil pollution cover, the Marine Pollution (Control and Civil Liability) Act stipulates that liability will be limited. This is set at 133 Special Drawing Rights (SDR) per gross ton. At current rates, one SDR is $1.32757. As the Treasure is 76,705 gt, this implies a limitation of $13.5m. Costs of the spill have yet to be calculated. But such a figure may well prove insufficient to meet the bill in full. The underwriters have visited Cape Town to see the arrangements made for dealing with the pollution, and through local correspondents are setting up a system for dealing with claims. They have already agreed to provide interim funding of some $30,000 to assist SANCCOB. The foundation estimates this process at $500,000. Meanwhile, SAM SA, said yesterday that it had written to Good Faith, instructing it that a portion of the sunken vessel must be removed to give clearance to shipping. Operations manager Captain Bill Dernier said the accommodation block would have to be removed to give the requisite 20m clearance in the area immediately adjacent to Cape Town Harbour. Bureau Veritas has begun a technical investigation into the casualty. The society is stressing that it is too early to establish the causes of the initial cracking. "We are confident that this vessel was in good condition and that Bureau Veritas has acted correctly in its dealings with the vessel," said head of marine division Bernard Anne. However, he added, "accidents happen."
30 June 2000 – Oil recovery from m bulk carrier Treasure is expected to begin today if weather conditions permit. Specialised "hot tap" oil recovery equipment arrived in Cape Town from Rotterdam yesterday and is being attached to m anchor handling supply vessel Pearl Fisher, for immediate use in the oil removal programme. The vessel has also been fitted out with a system of tank containers to store the recovered oil. Pumping equipment on board the utility vessel, Sea Carrier, is already at the wreck with the dive team in readiness to begin the process. The tow of the Winbuild, a Smit Pentow Marine containment tank and cargo barge that will be used to pump the remaining bunkers from the sunken Treasure, is progressing well and the captain of John Ross, the tow tug, indicated that she should arrive in Cape Town on schedule at the weekend. Smit Pentow Marine, local salvage experts, presented a full salvage plan to the owners of the vessel and SAM SA on Wednesday (June 28). One of the bags used to staunch the flow of oil from a vent in the wreck, and which had begun to leak, was replaced yesterday. Heavy patches of oil still surrounded Dassen Island, a major breeding ground for some 60,000 endangered penguins, by yesterday afternoon, but two Pentow vessels are working in the Table Bay area attempting to break up the heavy patches of oil. There was also heavy oil at the entrance to the port of Cape Town on the seaward side of the breakwater. According to port captain, John Woodend, it has had no negative effect on shipping at present. He said they had only suffered delays to shipping on the first day after the sinking but that the port had never actually been closed to traffic. "We just had to manage the situation and allow vessels out in groups," he said. South Africa's environment minister has asked the country's defence force to help in the rescue of penguins off Cape Town's coast as an oil spill spread to an island containing the largest colony of the rare birds. Environmental affairs and tourism minister Valli Moosa said he had also requested conservation officers from South Africa's national parks to assist in the rescue operation, the largest of its kind ever launched. The effort has so far focused on Robben Island, where SANCCOB said 10,600 oiled jackass penguins had been plucked by Wednesday evening. But conservationists said the spill had moved north and oil now surrounded Dassen Island, 30 miles further north and home to an estimated 50,000 of the total population of 150,000 birds. "Fences have been erected on Dassen Island to contain the birds so they can be evacuated," foundation spokeswoman Christina Pretorius said. "But it will be a difficult operation because there is no airstrip on the island or harbour access." Environmentalists have said they hope to evacuate all of Robben Island's 20,000 penguins, including 6,000 chicks. The oil poisons the birds and prevents them from eating and swimming, but Ms Pretorius said fatalities had been low on Robben Island thanks to the fast response. Fewer than 50 dead penguins had been found so far. Some 160 unsoiled penguins were released near Port Elizabeth and are expected to swim back to Robben Island in 10 or 12 days, by which time it is hoped to have the island's beaches and shoreline clean. Hull insurance for Treasure is reported to be placed in France and Italy.
30 June 2000 – The last flight of the oil pollution control aircraft Kuswag VII yesterday afternoon revealed four heavy oil patches lying between the wreck of m bulk carrier Treasure and Dassen Island. Around the island to the west, fingers of oil were reported, with a similar pattern to the east. Two smaller patches were lying to the south of the wreck. The picture is much the same this morning. The Kuswag VII flew north of Dassen Island as far as Cape Columbine and reported no oil in that vicinity. A vast improvement in the condition of the Mouille Point area has been noted. Only sheen was reported on the water in the vicinity of Granger Bay. The pilot noted heavy oiling at the entrance to the V & A Waterfront Harbour as well as at the entrance to the Port of Cape Town. The Kuswag IV is working north of the wreck at breaking up the patches reported there and the Kuswag II is working off Dassen Islands south east corner on a heavy patch of oil. The specialised oil pollution abatement vessel Albatross is working today just outside the breakwater near the V & A Waterfront. This morning, divers replaced a leaking bag on one of Treasure's breathers to prevent a further release of oil. Preparations for the oil recovery operation continue with the flanges needed for the operation being transported out to the wreck this morning. Pumping equipment was loaded onto supply vessel Sea Carrier late yesterday. She is currently at the scene of the wreck with the dive team on board. The specialised "hot tap oil" recovery equipment is due to arrive on a chartered flight from Rotterdam at noon today and will be mobilised onto vessel Pearl Fish, along with a system of tank containers that will be utilised in the storage of the recovered oil. The Master of m tug/supply vessel John Ross reports that the tow of barge Winbuild is progressing well at eight-and-a-half knots and she is still on track for arrival in Cape Town at the weekend. A salvage plan was presented to representatives of SAM SA and the owners last night. An appeal has again been made to recreational boaters and divers to stay away from the vicinity of the wreck over the weekend as their interference may hinder oil recovery operations. The police have offered their support in this matter Blaauwberg Authorities report light oiling between the Milnerton lighthouse and the mouth of the lagoon. A clean-up team is working in the area. The boom across the Milnerton lagoon is still in place and underwent routine maintenance on site this morning. City of Cape Town authorities report that clean-up activities in Mouille Point will be completed by the end of the day today. No additional oil has been reported on the beach, with the exception of an amount of oiled seaweed that has washed up onto the rocks. Dassen Island is a hive of activity this morning as clean-up teams and penguin capture specialists address the two main areas of concern oiled beaches and oiled birds. Cape Nature Conservation has ordered 10km of plastic mesh, with 3km arriving in Yzerfontein at midday today. It is anticipated that this will reach the island by mid-afternoon. This mesh will be used to fence off the island, preventing the majority of the penguin colony from reaching the sea. By last night approximately 600 oiled penguins had been caught on the island. Attention will now be focused on preventing the clean penguins from being affected. Penguin capture operations continue on Robben Island. It has been reported that clean-up operations are progressing well. The situation in the harbour has not changed much. There are still vast quantities of oil at the entrance to the harbour as well as at the entrance to the V & A Waterfront.
30 June 2000 – M bulk carrier Treasure: This mornings flight of oil pollution control aircraft Kuswag VII confirmed reports yesterday that the entrances to the V & A Waterfont Harbour, as well as to the Port of Cape Town are heavily oiled. Oily patches three miles off Dassen Island to the south-west and also off the north-west tip were reported yesterday and are today moving away from the Island in a south-westerly direction. A small patch of oil is approximately three miles south-west of Robben Island and is breaking up. The oil pollution abatement vessel Kuswag IV will be working between the wreck and Dassen Island during the course of the day and, after taking bunkers, the Kuswag II will be directed to the vicinity of the wreck. Vessel Albatross continues her work in the heavily oiled harbour. On arrival at the scene of the wreck this morning on board supply launch Sea Carrier, the dive team reported heavy patches of oil in the area. They immediately mobilised and undertook a dive to determine whether the previously sealed breathers and vents were still secure. Apart from noticing two ribbons of oil emerging from one of the breathers, which they resealed, they report that the after end of the vessel is still intact and sitting firmly on the ocean floor. They are at present moving desmi pumps from the surface to the vicinity of the Treasure's fuel tanks where they will be secured. The specialised "hot tap" equipment arrived from Rotterdam yesterday afternoon along with a three-man team of specialist engineers and divers. The equipment was immediately mobilised onto tug/supply vessel Pearl Fish, along with tank containers with a 120m3 capacity. A sea slug mobilised from Saldanha Bay is also on board. It has a capacity of 100m3. At 10.30, this morning Pearl Fish was in the process of mooring over the wreck. A decision will then be made as to which side of the wreck will first be approached port or starboard. This is dictated by the prevailing ground swell. City of Cape Town clean-up operations continue. Small quantities of oil have come ashore on the rocks and beaches of Sea Point. Members of the public are asked to be aware of this and to avoid these areas. Blaauwberg reports that the situation in their area is much improved. Hatch lid removal operations near Melkbosstrand will continue over the weekend. Yesterday, a team undertaking maintenance to the boom across the Milnerton Lagoon reported malicious damage to the equipment, the boom being cut by unknown parties. It has since been repaired. An appeal has again been made to recreational boaters and divers to stay away from the vicinity of the wreck over the weekend as their interference may hinder oil recovery operations. The authorities have offered their support in this matter.
2 July 2000 – M bulk carrier Treasure: once again, the picture with respect to oil in the bay has changed considerably over night. Reports from the early morning Kuswag VII patrol flight are that a vast area between Dassen Island and the wreck appears to be oiled patches of sheen interspersed with heavier fresh patches of oil. This area is four by three miles in dimension. The co-ordinating team is of the opinion that the wreck must have released further quantities of oil during the night but this will be confirmed again this afternoon when the Kuswag VII completes her second patrol of the day. Patches of sheen interspersed with oil have been reported as far south as Llandudno and continue to be visible off the coast near Mouille Point, Green Point and Sea Point. Reports of oil washed up onto the Sea Point promenade have been received and members of the public are advised to keep clear of these areas. North/north-west of Robben Island, a slow moving four square mile patch of sheen interspersed with heavy oil is moving in an easterly direction towards Blouberg beaches. Oil on three Clifton beaches has been reported and a clean-up team is working in that area today. Arriving on the scene this morning, the dive team began another detailed survey of the wreck. Sealed vents and breathers are reported to be intact, one small crack being resealed; the ribbon of oil it was emitting stopped. Favourable dive conditions are reported and the "hot tap" engineers are preparing their equipment on the previously inaccessible port side of the vessel. Thick fog in the vicinity of Dassen Island hindered the team there from giving an accurate report as to conditions. A clean-up team of 14 will be treating the areas affected by oil on the island and anticipate that this process will take between three to four days to complete should no further oil come ashore.
Conservationists scrambling to save oil-soaked penguins off South Africa's Atlantic coast today began evacuating the entire colony of Dassen Island, in one of the world's biggest evacuations of wild birds. A spokeswoman for SANCCOB said up to 56,000 birds would be taken off Dassen Island. "The evacuation has begun and the first helicopter has landed on the island," Christina Pretorius said. She said there were between 15,000 and 20,000 oil-free penguins on the island and these birds would be air-lifted to Algoa Bay, near Port Elizabeth, where they would be released into unaffected waters. The evacuation comes a week after m bulk carrier Treasure sank off Cape Town. Rescuers hope that once the birds have been thrown into the seas around Port Elizabeth, they will then swim back to their Cape nests in time for the oil to have been dispersed and the water cleaned up.
"The evacuation is concentrating first on the clean birds which have perched themselves at the centre of the island," Pretorius said. "We'll then later pick up the dirty birds for cleaning at one of our rescue centres," she said added. The evacuation, which entails boxing three penguins into a single carton, is being carried out using a chartered helicopter, she said. Zane Erasmus, a spokesman for the Cape Nature Conservation Board could not say how long the evacuation would last. "We don't know how long the whole thing is going to take as we have never done anything like it before," he said, adding only 2,000 birds had been lifted off Dassen Island by noon today. He said rescue teams were closely monitoring the oil slick around the island, helped by some calmer seas and weather. "We are planning to meet later in the day to assess whether the evacuation should continue or not. But as things stand there is no option but to take the birds off the island and transport them to safety," Erasmus said. He said many of the oil-soaked birds were in distress and tended to fight when they were being loaded into boxes before being air-lifted. "They are fighting, getting on each other's eyes and so on and we can only put three of them into one box, something that means we could take some time with this evacuation," Erasmus said. Pretorius said SANCCOB had already rescued a total of 19,000 adult jackass penguins from Robben Island and Dassen Island, and 1,120 chicks. Most of them were being cared for at two rescue stations that have been set up in the city. Yesterday SANCCOB appealed for more volunteers to help with the attempts to save the destitute birds. SANCCOB said more than 900 people were needed for the operation each day.
3 July 2000 – The first oil is expected to be pumped from the wreck of m bulk carrier Treasure today after the oil recovery team spent the entire weekend getting all the underwater work complete. Yesterday the port side deep tank was penetrated using the "hot tap" equipment flown out from Rotterdam. M anchor handling tug/supply vessel Pearl Fish, was also used to facilitate laying the substantial heavy mooring spread and connections to the underwater piping were hooked up. The pumping of oil into the tank containers on the Pearl Fish will begin today unless the weather deteriorates. A heavy swell hampered the speed of operations, but divers and other recovery team members managed to continue to work. Pentow Marine m salvage tug John Ross, and her barge tow, the Winbuild, are expected in Cape Town today from Durban. It will take about two days to mobilise the barge, which will then be moored at the site of the wreck with full accommodation facilities, dive spread and additional equipment.
8 July 2000 – Attempts to extract oil from the sunken m bulk carrier Treasure off Cape Town have so far met with little success, marine officials said today. SAM SA Captain Bill Dernier said a "hot tap" penetration into the starboard deep tank of the vessel had been successful but on pumping, it was found that the tank contained only water. He said whereabouts of the 390 tons of fuel in the tank was not known. "Divers are connecting up the string of hoses to the port side of the vessels deep tank and pumping will start as soon as the hoses are connected," Dernier said. The divers would then swim the after end of the vessel and look for suitable locations to make "hot tap" penetrations into the engine-room. Dernier said oil was spotted this morning stretching out of the harbour towards Granger Bay, oil in patches between the wreck and Dassen Island and oil patches some 10km long, to the west of Duiker Point. The anti-pollution vessel Kuswag II was working the slick north of the wreck towards Dassen Island while Kuswag IV was working the oil coming up from the wreck. The oil pollution-skimming vessel Albatross was still working the oil at the entrance to Cape Town harbour. Kuswag I was being kept in reserve in Cape Town while the South African navy vessel Umulasi was on standby, should the problem escalate. Clean-up operations on the beaches at Sandy Bay, Clifton and Mouille Point continued today while clean-up operations on Robben and Dassen islands were "reaching fruition." Municipal workers were using steam clean on the rocks at Llandudno beach.
For two weeks, ever since an oil spill off South Africa's coast began threatening tens of thousands of African penguins, the largest bird-rescue operation ever undertaken has churned along. More than 10,000 untainted penguins have been evacuated from their island home off Cape Town's coast, driven eight hours east and released into the ocean for the long swim home. Authorities hope the trip will take them at least ten days, long enough to break up the spill from m bulk carrier Treasure that sank off Cape Town on June 23. Meanwhile, oil-soaked penguins have arrived by the truckload at a warehouse-turned-bird refugee centre. By today, more than 18,000 traumatised birds had been brought to the warehouse and 4,000 more were being housed in other rehabilitation centres in the city. The numbers are expected to climb. The warehouse is abuzz with activity. Volunteers pitch in to care for the birds, which must be watched over for up to two months until their coats have regained the waterproofing destroyed by the oil. Less than 1 per cent of the captured birds have died, and veterinarians say the rehabilitated birds have a good chance of survival. The penguin centres are being run by SANCCOB. A team of more than 40 international experts flown in by the International Fund for Animal Welfare manages the centres. The bulk of the penguins were captured from Robben Island which was badly hit by the spill. Several thousand more oil-coated penguins were hauled from their burrows on Dassen Island. Today, SAM SA said the slick was shrinking and dispersing naturally, although large patches of oil were still visible in the bay. A salvage company has managed to pump about 40 tons of oil off the wrecked vessel. Despite all the efforts, the penguins' future is less than rosy. Tony Williams, South Africa's top penguin expert, estimates it will take at least five years before the population recovers, assuming it is not struck by other major disasters.
11 July 2000 – Over-flight at 09.00 today revealed that the tail of sheen and patches of oil extending approximately five miles to the south of the wreck of m bulk carrier Treasure is still present. However, it appears to be lightening. No other oil has been reported in the area between Dassen Island and Hout Bay. The wind direction is light north-westerly with a 4m swell currently being experienced on site. All dive equipment was transferred from m tug/supply vessel Pearl Fish to the Winbuild barge yesterday and the barge left for site under tow of Pearl Fish approximately 09.00 today. It is expected that she will be on site by 13.00 and the laying of the five-point mooring system will, weather permitting, be completed tonight, with the assistance of m tug/supply vessel Pentow Salvor. It is expected that diving and oil recovery operations will recommence tomorrow morning. Clean-up operations on the beaches to the south of Cape Town continue, with particular effort being expended at Sandy Bay where some oil has come ashore. Beaches to the west remain clean.
12 July 2000 – M bulk carrier Treasure: the laying of the five-point mooring system securing the work barge Winbuild over the site of the wreck was completed late yesterday evening. With weather conditions worsening over the last 24-hour period, diving conditions have deteriorated. An attempt has already been made this morning to reconnect and continue oil recovery operations from the port side deep tank, however, worsening bottom surge conditions resulted in this operation being called off. Repeated attempts will be made during the day. The priority, weather permitting, for the removal of heavy fuel oil is to continue pumping oil from the port side deep tank from which 180 tonnes has already been recovered and an estimated 80-100 tonnes remains. Thereafter, by a systematic process of elimination, the operation to prove the contents of the starboard deep tank – original contents 377 tonnes – and engine-room will be continued. Preliminary "hot tapping" and drilling has indicated that these spaces appear to be free of significant quantities of heavy fuel oil, however, further investigation is required to prove this conclusively. All other tanks known to have contained heavy fuel oil prior to the vessel sinking have been proved empty. Clean-up operations on the beaches to the south of Cape Town continue. Beaches to the west remain clean.
13 July 2000 – M bulk carrier Treasure: The 09.30 Kuswag VII flight today reported light sheen passing east of Robben Island and approaching Mouille Point, driven by the strong northerly wind. The weather conditions are breaking up the sheen but it is probable that some will land in the Mouille Point area. The Kuswag I and IV are still working the tail of sheen and oily patches off the wreck of the Treasure and report the situation to be slightly improved from yesterday. The wind direction is currently due north, approximately 50kph with a 4-5m swell being experienced on site. The weather has deteriorated as forecast, however, reports received indicate that the extreme conditions forecast have not materialised as yet and medium term forecasts have, in fact, moderated. Attempts were made yesterday to reconnect and continue oil recovery operations from the port side deep tank, however, bottom surge conditions circumvented this operation. A further attempt was made this morning and it was found that surge conditions had worsened, making any further operation unsafe. The crew on board work barge Winbuild are constantly monitoring the situation and, should a weather window occur, operations will recommence. It is not envisaged that conditions will improve and permit a further attempt today. The surge conditions around the wreck are having a flushing out effect on the superstructure and crew on the Winbuild report that various items of furniture have surfaced. Members of the public are requested to keep a look out for these navigational hazards and to report the landing of any such flotsam to their local authority. Clean-up operations on the beaches to the south of Cape Town continue. Beaches to the west remain clean.
14 July 2000 – Owners of the sunken m bulk carrier Treasure are facing an extensive court battle after the owners of the cargo she was carrying indicated they intended suing for damages of US$4 million. A provisional order was issued in the Cape High Court Ju1y 12, requesting the court's sheriff to attach the vessel and all her flotsam and jetsam that were earlier recovered. In court papers, the owners and insurers of the 135,000 tons of iron ore said they intended suing the vessel's owners for US$4 million. The court ordered that documents – including deck and engine-room logbooks, the radio transmission log, damage survey reports and video footage of the damage – be submitted to the legal team preparing for the trial. A director of Findlay and Tait of the Cape Town office of Bowman Gilfillian Incorporated said the owners of the cargo based their claims on the Treasure owners' breach to fulfil their obligation to carry the cargo "properly and safely." The cargo owners also claimed that the vessel was allowed to sail from the loading port in "an unseaworthy condition." The owners were also accused of failing to take necessary steps while the vessel was anchored north of Robben Island from June 20 to 22 to contract Smit Pentow Marine to save the cargo.
17 July 2000 – M bulk carrier Treasure: Approximately 180 tonnes of heavy fuel oil have been recovered from the wreck to date. Progress to date is as follows. Heavy fuel oil tanks: top side tanks port, original contents about 82 tonnes, and starboard, original contents about 500 tonnes: on sinking, the vessel broke in way of No. 9 hold, exposing both of these tanks. Divers have been able to physically enter these tanks and have confirmed them to be empty of oil. Port side deep tank, original contents about 275 tonnes HFO: a "hot tap" penetration was made into this tank and to date about 180 tonnes have been recovered. It is known that some fuel leached out through the tank breather prior to it being sealed by divers and it is estimated that approximately 80 to 100 tonnes remain. Starboard side deep tank, original contents about 377.5 tonnes: a flange connection was first made to the filling line for the starboard side tanks. About two tonnes of fuel was recovered after which clean sea water was pumped. Subsequently, a "hot tap" penetration was made to this tank. On commencement of pumping no oil was found to be present. Two further exploratory holes were then drilled into the tank top and once again only sea water was encountered. Two exploratory holes were then drilled into the tank immediately aft of this tank which had originally been declared empty. This was confirmed as only seawater was encountered. All compartments adjacent to the starboard deep tank have therefore been proved empty of oil except for the inboard side which accesses the engine-room. There are therefore two possibilities with regard to the 377.5 tonnes in the starboard deep tank: the inboard side of this tank was damaged when the vessel sunk and the oil flooded into the engine-room; the oil leaked out of the tank breather before it was sealed by the divers. It is thought that the majority of this oil came to the surface shortly after the sinking. Although it is possible that the oil could have flowed to the engine-room, an exploratory hole drilled into the port side of the engine-room found only sea water. Further holes will have to be drilled into the engine-room space to conclusively prove it free of significant quantities of oil. Engine-room: a number of heavy fuel, about 104 tonnes, diesel, about 56 tonnes, and lubrication oil, about 64.3 tonnes, tanks are located in the engine-room with breather and sounding pipes at various positions. It is assumed that the contents of these tanks has been leaching into the engine-room and escaping out of the funnel casing and superstructure. This is the oil that has been creating the tail of sheen and patches off the wreck which the Kuswag vessels have been dispersing on a daily basis. The balance of probability therefore is that approximately 150 to 200 tonnes of oil remains on the vessel and that approximately 1,250 to 1,300 tonnes was originally on the water and has since dispersed or come ashore. Although the adverse weather conditions currently being experienced have curtailed oil recovery operations, the extreme swell conditions forecast have not materialised as yet. The swell reports on site today are that wave heights in the order of 6m are being experienced. It does not appear that these conditions have structurally affected the Treasure, however, the situation is being closely monitored. It is felt that extreme weather conditions would be required to open up the vessel. If failure occurred, in all probability, the funnel would be torn away followed by portions or all of the superstructure. Dispersion of the resultant oil on the water would be accelerated by the effect of wind and waves, with the remaining oil corning ashore reasonably quickly. Should the current status quo continue with regard to the tail of sheen emanating from the wreck, light oiling only of penguins passing through this sheen would occur. Latest reports from the wreck site are that a westerly wind gusting up to 90kph is being experienced. The tail of sheen appears to be less than yesterday, stretching approximately 400m due east of the wreck before dispersing. The Kuswag IV, which was on site this morning, has been recalled to port and remains on stand-by. Latest weather reports indicate that the weather should moderate, however, further adverse conditions are forecast for early next week. Oil recovery operations will resume at the earliest opportunity.
18 July 2000 – The 09.00 Kuswag VII flight reported no oil in the bay today, other than a light tail of sheen stretching approximately two miles south-west from the wreck. The Kuswag II continues to disperse this oil with the Kuswag IV on stand-by. A 30kph northerly wind and 3m swells are currently being experienced on site. It is expected that swell conditions will moderate slightly before increasing following the arrival of the next cold front, predicted for later today. The severe weather conditions over the weekend (July 15-16) resulted in the forward port anchor wire of work barge Winbuild's five-point mooring system parting. This anchor was re-laid yesterday as conditions moderated in preparation for dive operations today. Dive operations recommenced this morning and, if surge conditions allow, oil recovery from the port side deep tank will continue and further exploratory holes will be drilled as part of the process to prove the vessel free of significant quantities of oil. The divers will also confirm the structural status of the wreck. It is anticipated however that dive operations will be suspended later today or early tomorrow in the face of the expected cold front. No further oil was reported to have washed up on the beaches over the weekend.
18 July 2000 – The 09.00 Kuswag VII flight reported no oil in the bay today, other than a light tail of sheen stretching 500m south of the wreck. The Kuswag II, originally on site, was recalled after the flight as it was seen that the wind was dispersing the oil effectively. The Kuswag IV remains on standby. A 60-70kph north-westerly wind with 4-5m swells are currently being experienced on site. It is expected that conditions will deteriorate throughout the day, with swell conditions increasing in the face of the current cold front. Reconnection to the port side deep tank was established yesterday and pumping began at 14.00. At approximately 22.00 it was reported that sea water was being pumped from the tank. Pumping continued through the night with only sea water coming out of the tank. Approximately 25m3 of heavy fuel oil was recovered and it can now be presumed that this tank is empty. Divers were able to carry out further exploratory work yesterday and no additional reports of oil found were received. It is also reported that no visible deterioration of the vessels super-structure has occurred to date. Divers are currently disconnecting the pipeline to the port side deep tank after which the barge Winbuild will pull itself a safe distance from the wreck in preparation of the oncoming inclement weather. It is expected that further dive operations will only be possible as weather moderates from Friday (July 21). No further oil was reported to have washed up on the beaches yesterday.
19 July 2000 – The 09.30 Kuswag VII flight reported a tail of oil stretching approximately two miles east of the wreck that was being dispersed by the effect of wind and waves. It appears that some oil may come ashore approximately one mile north of Koeberg. Weather reports indicate that the wind will back to the south-west and, if this occurs, any oil coming ashore would land even further north of Koeberg. Koeberg Power Station as well as local authorities have been notified. The Kuswag vessels have not been deployed due to the fact that the wind is effectively dispersing oil on the water. It is intended to deploy Kuswag IV at first light tomorrow as it is expected that wind conditions will begin to moderate. A 60-70kph westerly wind with 7-8m swells is currently being experienced on site. Weather conditions are expected to moderate from tomorrow afternoon. After disconnecting the pipeline to the port side deep tank yesterday, work barge Winbuild was positioned a safe distance from the wreck and reports are that no difficulties are being experienced given the inclement weather. Dive operations are not expected to recommence before Friday (July 21). All tanks known to have contained heavy fuel oil before the vessel sank, except for those located in the engine-room, have now been proved empty of significant quantities of oil. Further dive operations are envisaged however, to prove the engine-room free of oil. The oil originally in service, settling, ready use and double bottom tanks in the engine-room – heavy fuel oil around 100 tonnes, diesel oil about 50 tonnes and lubricating oil about 60 tonnes – which has been coming to the surface since the Treasure sank, is not accessible for recovery and will continue to leach from the vessel for some time. It is thought, however, that the bulk of this oil is already out of these tanks. No further oil has been reported to have washed up on the beaches to date.
21 July 2000 – The 09.00 Kuswag VII flight reported a tail of oil stretching approximately one mile north-east of the wreck of m bulk carrier Treasure, which is breaking into wind rows and dispersing before coming ashore. The wind has moderated and the Kuswag IV is in position assisting with the dispersion of oil. A 30-40kmh south-westerly wind with 6-8m swells is currently being experienced on site. Weather conditions are expected to moderate throughout the day. The barge Winbuild experienced severe conditions overnight with 10m swells and winds gusting up to 90kmh reported. The forward port and starboard anchor wires, as well as the breast rope attached to the Conventional Buoy Mooring parted. The actual buoy mooring was also lost. The location of the buoy is currently not known, although it is thought that it may have washed ashore on Blaawberg beaches. As the weather moderates, the mooring wires will be re-laid in preparation for dive operations which may recommence tomorrow, but in all probability will only commence on Saturday. It does not appear that damage to the super-structure of the Treasure has occurred overnight, although this can only be confirmed once dive operations resume. Reports have been received that a small amount of oil has landed on Sunset Beach north of Milnerton. This was confirmed from the Kuswag VII flight. No oil was seen to have landed north of Koeberg and no further sightings of oil have been noted.
28 June 2000 – Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
M tanker Cantagala (13,306 gt, built 1990) illegally flushing out her hold dumped oil into Rio's scenic bay, Brazil's state oil giant Petrobras admitted today in taking responsibility for the second oil spill in the area in five months. "It was very little, just 380l (98 gallons)," said Petrobras spokesman Luiz Carlos Cabral. "The oil will not reach the beach and will not have any environmental impact." The volume of spilled crude pales in comparison with the 338,000 gallons of fuel oil which oozed into Rio's Guanabara Bay from a ruptured pipeline in mid-January. Even so, the Rio de Janeiro State Government said it would press for the maximum fine allowed under Brazilian law – the same 50 million reais ($27 million) which Petrobras was forced to pay earlier this year. This latest spill was first noticed yesterday by fishermen working in the bay. The state government says the oil leaked from Cantagala contracted to Petrobras which was cleaning her tanks in the bay, an illegal operation in Brazil. "We will push for the maximum possible penalty," said Andre Correa, environment secretary for the Rio State Government, speaking on national television. "That fine could be as big as the fine imposed on January 18, which is on the order of 50 million reais." The Rio-based company dispatched teams to erect absorbent barriers to contain the oil, which is located at the back of the vast bay in two separate slicks miles away from Rio's Ipanema and Copacabana beaches. "It was not an accidental leak, it was intentional as Cantagalo was cleaning her tanks in the bay, which is prohibited," said a spokeswoman for the Rio State Government. "The environmental impact was not as bad as the January spill but the slick is there even though it hasn't reached the beach," she said.
28 June 2000 – Brazil's state oil giant, Petrobras, was fined about $275,000 by the mayor of Rio de Janeiro today for polluting the city's scenic bay with crude oil in its second leak there this year. Earlier in the week, Petrobras admitted responsibility for a leak of 98 gallons of crude into Rio's Guanabara Bay during the flushing out of a tanker's hold (m tanker Cantagalo), an operation prohibited in city bays. In a statement, the Rio mayor's office said the board of Petrobras had received notification of a fine totalling reais 500,000 ($274,725) for polluting the bay. The company has until July 22 to appeal. On Friday (June 30), the Rio-based company is expected to announce the results of its investigation into the latest leak, which was rust noticed on Monday by local fishermen using their vessels in the bay. Very little oil has been reported so far on any of the beaches in the area. When it heard of the accident, Petrobras teams erected absorbent barriers to contain the oil, located at the back of the vast bay in two separate slicks miles from Rio's famed Ipanema and Copacabana beaches.
30 June 3000 – United Arab Emirates
An 8km oil slick hit the east coast yesterday, wreaking havoc on the local fishing industry. It was spotted off the coast three days ago, growing daily, and by yesterday it stretched from the shore to about 1,000m out to sea. The slick has caused heavy loss of earnings to more than 70 fishermen. "We're fed up with the repeated oil pollution and the slicks which hit our east coast. Nobody has done anything about it. We're the only people to suffer. We lose our fishing boats, traps, nets and other equipment," fisherman Abdullah Haroun said. The slick was caused by oily wastes and bilge water disposed of at sea by passing vessels, polluting the marine environment, killing the fish and destroying the coral reefs and underwater life in general, he said. "The fishermen have not put out to sea for three days, and they have family obligations and other expenses," Haroun added. Haroun and other fishermen have complained to the Dibba Al Fujairah Municipality. The director promised to have the beaches cleaned. But he said the Municipality does not have the means to clean up the sea.
28 June 2000 – Biscayne Bay, Miami, USA
A 20 foot section of sewer pipe that ruptured last week could be replaced within two days and the entire pipeline back in service in time for the long holiday weekend, the director of Miami-Dade Water and Sewer said yesterday. That would allow county officials to stop dumping raw sewage into the ocean off Miami Beach, alleviating the concerns of health officials and leading to a reopening of area beaches. Bill Brant, the director of the county's water and sewer department, described that timetable as a "best case scenario" after briefing Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas and others on the status of the underwater repair job off the south-western tip of Miami Beach. Health officials said yesterday they were encouraged by the results of the latest water samples but that any decision on whether to reopen more beaches would have to wait until tomorrow when they expect to have more information.
4 July 2000 – Late last night, health authorities reopened the beaches between 54th Street in Miami Beach and 94th Street in Surfside, which had been closed for two weeks since sewage was diverted to an old pipeline off 74th Street. The decision followed final repairs on the burst pipeline that carries sewage from Miami Beach under Government Cut to a treatment plant on Virginia Key. The Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department reported after 23.00 yesterday that all Miami Beach sewage was flowing to the Virginia Key treatment plant. Now, only the area near the outlet of the emergency pipe – from a mile offshore to 3.6 miles offshore – is off-limits for ocean sports enthusiasts. Crews completed replacement of a 20-foot stretch of 54-inch pipe yesterday morning beneath the waters of Miami Beach Marina. In the afternoon, they pumped tons of concrete over the new segment to seal it. On June 20, a contractor, working without proper permits, drove a piling through the rock-encased sewer main 20 feet underwater.
5 July 2000 – Sakhaun Island, Russia
Fuel oil from sunken Japanese my Takeo Maru has leaked and is forming a slick off Sakhalin Island, the Emergency Situations Ministry said yesterday. Winds first blew the 3km long and 300m wide slick out to sea, but then reversed and sent the oil lapping against piers in the port of Shakhtersk on the island, ministry spokeswoman Irina Andreyanova said. Vessels were splashing absorbent chemicals on the spill and using booms to control its flow. It was too early to assess ecological damage, she said. Takeo Maru sank off Sakhalin Island during a storm in 1979 with her fuel tanks full. Andreyanova said the oil leaked because a tank had rusted over the years and then ruptured. Divers have previously attempted to weld shut small holes in the tanks. Work was slowed by a dispute over whether Russia or Japan should pay for the work, according to news reports.
7 July 200 – North Cape
A barge owner and others responsible for a 1996 oil spill which killed millions of lobsters and other wildlife off the Rhode Island coast, agreed yesterday to pay about $16 million to restore the Block Island Sound environment. In a civil settlement announced by the US Department of Justice, the company, its insurer and other parties agreed to pay more than $8 million to restore ponds, replenish shellfish and protect habitat for loons, sea birds and piping plovers. They also agreed to buy 1.25 million female lobsters to restock Block Island Sound over the next three to five years, a projected expected to cost at least $8 million. The agreement must still be approved by a federal judge. Tank barge North Cape, owned by Eklof Marine Corp of Staten Island, NY, ran aground during a storm on January 19, 1996, spilling 828,000 gallons of home heating oil in Block Island Sound. "Today's filing is the final chapter in a four-year struggle to restore the resources damaged during the North Cape oil spill," Governor Lincoln Almond said in a statement. To date, Eklof and other responsible parties have agreed to pay more than $50 million in criminal penalties and other spill-related costs. Eklof has since been taken over by K-Sea Transportation Corp. Deming Sherman, a lawyer representing K-Sea, said Thursday the company was pleased with the agreement. He said the company still faces a lawsuit by lobstermen and other claims it is trying to resolve privately.
5 July 2000 – Penn 460
M tug Penn No. 6 (189 gt, built 1970) towing barge Penn 460 (9,359 gt, built 1973) reported barge was holed in No. 1 fuel tank and approximately 2,000 to 3,000 gallons of No.6 oil was spilled in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. The oil was transferred from No. 1 tank and the spillage was stopped. Pollution control on scene and situation under control.
6 July 2000 – An oil barge (tank barge Penn 460) spilled more than 9,000 gallons of her cargo into an ecologically sensitive area of Narragansett Bay today, raising concerns about damage to shore birds and fragile habitats. The Coast Guard believes the spill was caused when the barge, heading to a power plant in Somerset, Mass., contacted the tug (m tug Penn No. 6) that was towing her. The barge was carrying more than 10 million gallons of oil. She was ruptured about two miles from Prudence Island, home to the Narragansett Bay Estuarine Sanctuary. "This is one of the most valuable areas in Narragansett Bay for marine life," said John Torgan of the environmental group Save The Bay. "This is a very serious spill." Officials said most of the spill was contained, though oil had washed ashore by afternoon. Five swans found covered with oil were not expected to survive, Coast Guard officials said. The Coast Guard planned to corral the oil along the shoreline during the night and begin cleaning it up tomorrow.
7 July 2000 – It is estimated that currently around 5,000 gallons of water/oil mix have been recovered. Vessels owners have contained the area using booms. They are continuing with clean-up operations.
7 July 2000 – Clean-up operations still in progress. The Coast Guard said, today, that 14,000 gallons of oil has spilled out of barge Penn 460, which was holed in a collision with m tug Penn No. 6, on July 15. Five swans died and 50 Canada geese were found blackened with oil. The spill may be becoming more serious for wildlife around Narragansett Bay, said John Torgan, Narragansett Bay keeper for the environmental group Save The Bay. This is a heavily fished area for lobsters and will have a serious impact, he said. Penn 460 was carrying 3.8 million gallons of oil. Coast Guard officials thought the oil would remain near the barge, but there have been reports of oil sheens and tar balls four miles south of the spill. Lobstermen were asked not to pull up their traps, oil has coated many of the buoys that mark the traps. Stephen Morin, a state Department of Environmental Management administrator, said the bay will remain closed for at least a week, which means losses of $100,000 a day for lobstermen. Coast Guard officials hoped light wind would lessen the spread of the oil, and crews used vacuum trucks and oil-skimming vessels to contain the spill. Penn Maritime Inc., which owns the vessels that collided, took full responsibility for the spill and dispatched 50 workers to clean the shorelines on foot.
9 July 2000 – Final calculations show that less oil than the Coast Guard estimated spilled into Narragansett Bay last week when m tug Penn No. 6 contacted tank barge Penn 460 and ruptured her side. Yesterday, the repaired barge was able to make it to her intended destination, the Brayton Point power plant in Somerset, Massachusetts. Once she unloaded her cargo nearly 4 million gallons of No.6 fuel oil it was calculated that the barge lost 9,700 gallons in the spill. The Coast Guard had estimated it had spilled 14,000 gallons. Both the tug and barge are owned by Penn Maritime Inc., of Stamford, Conn. Today, the company's vice president of operations, Jim Sweeney, reiterated that Penn was taking full responsibility for the accident and clean-up. He said he met with lobstermen yesterday and would meet with them again tomorrow Sunday to talk about compensation for lost catches. "We really don't know how much their losses will be, but we've told them we want to cooperate with them to make sure there is no economic loss for the boat owners and the crew members," Sweeney said. He said payments would be made "very, very quickly." Sweeney said he also expected claims to be filed by people with boats that may have been damaged and by the agencies that responded to the accident. He said he could not estimate how much the total bill will be. The state yesterday reopened about half of the 4,000-acre area of the bay that it had closed to fishing after the spill. There were no spill-related bans on swimming in Narragansett Bay. So far, approximately 8,500 gallons of oil and water mixture have been recovered, as well as more than 50 cubic yards of absorbant material put down to soak up oil. About 140 people are engaged in the clean-up and recovery operations. To date, five swans have died as a result of the spill and an additional 28 oil-soaked Canada geese have been recovered, the Coast Guard said. Efforts are underway to help the geese at the Tri-state Bird Rescue facility in Delaware Wildlife rescue efforts and the natural resource damage assessment process will continue through the next several weeks. The barge is now in New York awaiting permanent repairs.
13 July 2000 – IB 960
More than 17,000 people would split $16 million, and their attorneys would divvy up slightly more, under the terms of a proposed settlement of claims over a 1997 chemical leak from a capsized barge (tank barge IB 960) on the Mississippi River. Two special masters appointed to review the $41.7 million settlement are recommending that US District Judge John Parker approve it. Parker is scheduled to decide the fate of the deal July 24. If approved, most people who claim they were affected by the leak would receive payments ranging from $50 to $2,000. A few would get far more. The largest single payment, $280,000, would go to Tamara Lirette of Baton Rouge. The special masters found that she suffered extraordinary medical problems as a result of the spill. Those payments come from $16.2 million set aside for the claimants. Their attorneys would take $16.7 million of the settlement. The rest of the money, about $9 million, would cover medical expenses and future claims against Ingram Barge, the owner of the wrecked vessel. The settlement stems from a lawsuit filed after a barge loaded with 400,000 gallons of toluene and benzene capsized in March 1997 near the west bank just south of the US 190 Mississippi Bridge and began leaking. About 42 people living near the river were evacuated for 11 days while the spill was cleaned up, according to the special masters' report. Within days of the spill, area residents filed a class-action lawsuit against Ingram Barge. "Reaching a comprehensive settlement of this litigation was not easy," wrote US Magistrate Stephen Riedlinger and attorney Emile Rolfs III, the two special masters. Riedlinger and Rolfs wrote that they reviewed 80 sworn statements, more than 13,000 claim forms and thousands of documents exchanged by attorneys in reaching the settlement. Riedlinger and Rolfs said the awards were based on several factors, including the length of exposure and proximity to the spill and documented medical problems stemming from the incident. Those exposed to the benzene the longest will receive the most money, Riedlinger and Rolfs wrote. The 42 people evacuated from their homes along the river would split $126,000, with some receiving $3,000 and others receiving up to $18,000. The 16 plaintiffs who worked closely with the attorneys on the case would each get $2,000. Riedlinger and Rolfs rejected several objections to the settlement. The special masters said the people objecting either could not show that their medical problems stemmed from exposure to the chemicals or did not properly file their claims or objections.
14 July 2000 – the UK
Italian ship owner/operator Finbeta has been fined for chemical pollution of UK waters by its m chemical tanker Crystal Rubino (5,045 gt, built 1992) last year. An unusual slick of seven nautical miles in length was spotted behind the tanker off the coast of Norfolk in August 1999. The vessel was later inspected by the UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) and its owners pleaded guilty to discharging residual mixtures from tank washing in insufficient water depth and to failing to make the mandatory entry in the Cargo Record Book. The cargo was an oil fatty acid. The vessel's master was subsequently sacked. Finbeta, which the MCA says co-operated fully and professionally in the court proceedings, was fined £18,500 plus £2,500 costs. This was the first prosecution for an illegal discharge of a noxious liquid substance under the 1996 regulations and shows the difficulty of detecting these offences, said the MCA.
17 July 2000 – Barique and Iguacu Rivers, Parana, Brazil
Brazil suffered one of its worst oil spills ever as more than 1 million gallons of crude leaked from a refinery into a river near the southern city of Curitiba, officials said today. State-run oil company Petrobras said a pipe broke yesterday afternoon, spewing oil for up to two hours into the Barigui River, a tributary of the Iguacu River, 390 miles upstream from Iguacu Falls, a major tourist attraction. Television images showed a completely blackened river winding through the countryside. Local residents told Globo TV that the stench of oil was making it difficult to breathe. Petrobras said the accident was "quite big," about three times the size of its last major accident in Rio de Janeiro's Guanabara Bay in January. Petrobras President Henri Phillipe Reichstul said that the company is investigating the cause of the rupture in the 23-year-old pipeline and that a report would be published within 72 hours. Petrobras set up eight retention barriers this afternoon to try and contain the slick that had reached 6.3 miles. The company said that a clean-up should take about ten days, but one environmentalist was sceptical. "You can't clean this up in ten days," said Paul Horsman, UK-based oil campaigner for Greenpeace International. "You can try and contain it but you are not going to be able to recover anywhere near the 4 million litres that flowed out." Parana state officials said the public did not appear to be in immediate danger and the drinking water supply was safe for the 1.5 million people in Curitiba, 250 miles south of Sao Paulo. Environmental officials said the Iguacu Falls tourist destination was out of harm's way. "There's no chance it will reach Iguacu Falls before they contain it," said Louis Antonio Motta Nunes de Melo, a representative of the Brazilian Environmental Institute (Ibama) in Parana state. The state's environmental agency fined Petrobras $28 million, the maximum permitted by federal law and the same fine handed down for the January accident. While Petrobras shut down the broken pipeline, the refinery continued to function normally. The affected waterways are not navigable.
19 July 2000 – Environmentalists in Brazil are working to contain millions of litres of crude oil, flowing down the southern Iguacu River, endangering drinking water, farm land and animal life along a 230km (140 mile) stretch. Dead fish, birds and mammals, coated in oil, are washing up on the river banks, according to environmental officials. State-owned oil company Petrobras has been fined $28m for the spill. The workers have put up booms and dug ditches into the river banks in an attempt to divert more than 4 million litres (1 million gallons)of crude oil, from a burst pipeline in Parana state on Sunday (July 16). Oil is still seeping through the barriers, but the slick has been moving along the river slower than was expected. The leak occurred 630km upstream from Iguacu Falls. Authorities warned that, by today, the slick could reach the town of Uniao da Vitoria, about 200km downstream. The city depends on the Iguacu for drinking water and has an important hydroelectric dam. Petrobras President Henri Phillippe Reichstul said the company accepted full responsibility for the accident and that unlimited resources would be used to repair the environmental damage.
19 July 2000 – The Brazilian state oil company Petrobras has said that a huge oil spill on the Iguacu River has been contained. The company said the spillage was brought under control by installing a number of floating barriers and other equipment at eight key points on the Iguacu.
Parana state Gov. Jaime Lerner said more than a thousand workers used floating barriers and canals to stop the slick 25 miles from the refinery, where state-owned oil company Petrobras leaked 1.06 million gallons, in two hours, Sunday (July 16), into the southern Iguacu River. The preventive actions should be sufficient to stop the slick from arriving in Uniao da Vitoria, Lerner said. The slick is now around 375 miles upriver from Iguacu Falls, on the border with Argentina and Paraguay. Officials had said the possibility of the oil arriving to the falls was remote. Petrobras said, today, that around half of the oil spilled remained within the refinery grounds. Another 91,000 gallons, or less than 10 per cent, had been removed from the river and an estimated 20 per cent to 30 per cent of the total had evaporated. Petrobras said all the oil should be cleaned off the river's surface in ten days. Four experts from US oil spill specialists were brought in to advise Petrobras. But the governor said Petrobras and Civil Defense still have a huge amount of clean-up work to do. The essential thing is to clean up all the riverbanks, which will mean an intense amount of work over the next month, Lerner said.
18 July 2000 – River Meuse, France
Workers laid off by a textile factory in northern France poured highly toxic chemicals into a stream leading into the River Meuse last night, threatening an ecological catastrophe in three countries. The "hard wing" of the 153 workers sitting in at the Cellatex factory in Givet, in the Ardennes, are now threatening to blow up the factory maybe as soon as today unless they are given generous severance payments. Families were leaving the town last night after the workers carried out the first of their threats and emptied a vat of sulphuric acid into a stream leading to the Meuse. Reports varied on the exact quantity of the chemicals dumped into the stream. One account said that 56,000l of the highly toxic acid had been released. French government officials at the site disputed that figure and insisted fire-fighters had already taken measures to dam the stream and prevent the sulphuric acid reaching the Meuse. The river, one of the main waterways of northern Europe, crosses the Belgian frontier to the north of Givet and flows out to the sea through The Netherlands.