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Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
30 January 2004 – Tasman Spirit (Malta)Crude oil tanker Endeavor II is still in Karachi under arrest.
31 January 2004 – Asimina Maritime Ltd, owner of the crude oil tanker Tasman Spirit, through Advocate Mohammad Naeem of Surridge and Beecheno, of Karachi, earlier this week filed a suit in local court against the Karachi Port Trust (KPT), for recovery of the cost of the vessel and other expenses incurred in salvaging the vessel and reclaiming beaches. They allege that the port authority is responsible for maintaining the channel’s navigability, but failed to do so and as a result their vessel grounded.
3 February 2004 – The salvage of crude oil tanker Tasman Spirit is going well, and will be completed ahead of schedule. Smit Salvage Ltd said today that this is about a week ahead of the original schedule and reflects the rapid progress made on the wreck’s removal. The aim is to remove the vessel before the monsoon season. An official said, “We are transferring the recovered residues to the after port slop tank – and are planning to re-float the forward section of Tasman Spirit on Thursday, February 5 – in another two days’ time”. He said about 60 percent of the swash-bulkhead in No. 2 centre tank had been sealed and with the buoyancy that can be achieved with No. 1 port centre and starboard tanks – as well as No. 2 centre tank – the company was confident that the sheerlegs and these tanks will enable re-floating on February 5. However, the damage to the bottom plating would take too long to try to repair, time that the company does not have. Smit has anticipated that it will deliver the front portion to ship-breakers at Gadani in Balochistan province on Febraury 6/7, while the aft section of the wreck is still proceeding on schedule – maybe slightly ahead of schedule, officials added. However, there are still challenges that have to be resolved, so they are still aiming for the first week in March for this re-floating attempt. In a briefing, Mr Nick Sloane, Project Manager of Smit Salvage BV, said that work had already started with the technical cooperation of two Karachi-based firms, Indus Divers and New (Pvt) Ltd through three phases. The operation is being done with the help of two tugs, Smit Lloyd 28 and Smit Luzon. A heavy crane-equipped vessel, Smit Cyclone, the barge Anambas, the logistic facility vessel Zakher Moon and another heavy crane will arrive by the last week of February to perform the final lifting of the rear section. Under phase one, number of holes in the bottom of the front part of the grounded vessel will be sealed, and later leftover oil-cum-residue (about 1,100 tonnes) pumped out.
5 February 2004 – The owner of crude oil tanker Tasman Spirit, Assimina Maritime Co. Ltd, has today solicited offers from international/local ship breakers/firms for the purchase of the forward section of the vessel, which is being re-floated by Smit Salvage BV. The forward section presently lies aground in the Keamari Channel, Karachi, and the intention is to re-float the section during the week commencing February 9 and transport the section to Gadani Beach in Balochistan Province of Pakistan. The salver has anticipated that on arrival at Gadani Beach, it is calculated, but not guaranteed, that the forward section will be beached in water with a maximum draught of 8 m, but best endeavours will be used to achieve beaching at a draught of 7 m. Potential purchasers may inspect the forward section by prior appointment with Smit Salvage BV. Further technical information may be obtained from Captain N. Sloane of Smit Salvage BV, and R. Sneddon of TMC (Marine Consultants) Ltd, currently residing at the Pearl Continental Hotel, Karachi. As per conditions laid down in tender, bids should be submitted on Saturday, Febraury 7, and a deposit of 25 per cent of the purchase price is to be paid before the forward section is transported to Gadani, while on arrival at the ship-breaking yard, Smit Salvage will give notice of readiness for delivery and the balance of purchase will be payable with 24 hours. The whole amount will later be deposited in local court, as per Admiralty Action no. 20 of 2003.
7 February 2004 – In order to facilitate the wreck removal operation of crude oil tanker Tasman Spirit from the mouth of the harbour channel, Karachi Port Trust (KPT) said today that it has granted permission to Smit Salvage BV to proceed with the re-floating attempt of the forward section of the grounded vessel on Monday (February 9) at midday high water. Foreign/local experts have already pumped out all tanks and refilled them with gases to make it floatable. Later, the wreck will be towed to the nearby ship-breaking yard at Gadani in Balochistan Province of Pakistan for hand over to the successful bidder for scrapping. However, Smit are just awaiting confirmation from the customs department of the formal “NOC” allowing the salver to remove salvage equipment to Gadani, and back, to facilitate the local court order. Earlier, the owner of crude oil tanker Tasman Spirit, Assimina Maritime Co. Ltd, solicited offers from international/local ship-breakers/firms for the purchase of the forward section of the vessel.
8 February 2004 – The owner of crude oil tanker Tasman Spirit, Assimina Maritime Co. Ltd, said today that it has selected a local leading ship breaking firm, Dewan Sons, out of ten bids for the sale of the forward section at a price of Rs24.2 million ($0.41 million), exclusive of all taxes and custom duty. The formal sale/purchase memorandum would be signed this evening. The tenders were opened on Febraury 7, and the second- and third-highest bids were a lump-sum price of Rs21 million and Rs20 million, respectively. Smit Salvage BV will try to re-float the forward portion tomorrow and later shift it to the Gadani ship-breaking yard in Balochistan province of Pakistan. As per the conditions laid down in tender, the successful bidders should deposit 25 per cent of the purchase price before the forward section is transported to Gadani, while on arrival at the ship-breaking yard, Smit Salvage will give notice of readiness for delivery and the balance of purchase will be payable with 24 hours. The whole amount will later be deposited in the local court, as per Admiralty Action no. 20 of 2003.
11 February 2004 – Wreck removal work on crude oil tanker Tasman Spirit has been suspended because of uncertainties as to whether the Pakistani customs would seek to charge duty on equipment brought into the country to be used to move the tanker. Work has been stopped as Smit Salvage BV holds urgent talks to clarify the customs position. The Pakistani authorities are understood to be seeking duty on 46 per cent of the value of the equipment, an estimated $14 million. The Smit Salvage team had been preparing to float the forward section of the tanker and tow it to a nearby beach. The news that customs might be planning to put in a bill for duty, if not resolved quickly, could jeopardise the whole salvage operation, which Smit plans to complete before the onset of the monsoon.
12 February 2004 – Karachi Port Trust (KPT) and Smit Salvage BV, have this afternoon again requested officials of the Central Board of Revenue (CBR), Ministry of Finance, Government of Pakistan, to expedite the clearance and issuance of a Waiving of Duty Certificate for the removal of equipment from the forward section of crude oil tanker Tasman Spirit, after towing it to Gadani beach, and back to the mouth of Karachi’s harbour for the aft section of Tasman Spirit. CBR officials pointed out that sheerlegs were one time granted exemption of duty with other salvor tools. Both sources are hopeful that matter will be resolved soon. The local Dewan Group has already purchased the forward section, and is looking forward to receive it at a ship-breaking yard in Balochistan province.
12 February 2004 – Smit Salvage BV said late this afternoon that it has just been issued with permission from Pakistan’s government to proceed with the re-floating of the forward section of the crude oil tanker Tasman Spirit from the mouth of the harbour channel, which is now set for tomorrow’s high tide, at approximately 15.00/16.00 hours. If successful, they will then endeavour to deliver the section to the local owner at anchorage off Gadani, in Balochistan Province, by Saturday evening (February 14), with assistance on beaching going through the weekend.
14 February 2004 – Karachi Port Trust (KPT) said today that unfortunately salvors could not re-float the forward section of the crude oil tanker Tasman Spirit at the mouth of Karachi port yesterday. As such, they have modified their re-floating plan to take into consideration their contingency planning, and will attempt again this afternoon. Officials revealed that yesterday while they were trying to re-float, they had buoyancy over 6,500 ton in the hull before a leak developed, and it was still unable to break the “suction” factor of the mud/ground, etc. Smit Salvage said there would be another 1,500 ton buoyancy for today’s attempt, but are concerned that the high water is now running into nightfall for the next few days, and may have to wait until the morning of February 17 if tomorrow is not successful. The international salvors, who have been working on the forward portion for the last three weeks, have so far managed to carry out necessary repair of the tanks of the forward portion of the ship. In addition to skimming the leftover oil from different tanks, the operators had to shift about 4,000 tonnes of sand and silt accumulated in the lower parts of the portion.
17 February 2004 – Karachi Port Trust (KPT) said today that following the resolving of duty/tax issues between Dewan Sons and the Collectorate of Customs of the Ministry of Finance, Smit Salvage BV yesterday restarted operations to remove the wreck of crude oil tanker Tasman Spirit. Operations had been suspended for about 48 hours as the Customs (Preventive) Oil Section, on Saturday (Febraury 14) had asked the salvagers to halt their work as import duties on the “forward section” of the wreck were required to be paid by Pakistani buyers before its removal to the Gadani ship-breaking yard in Pakistan, as directed by the local court. Now the duty will be paid as soon as the broken part reaches the dismantling site. Meanwhile, the salvors were a little surprised when they found some physical contact beneath the water between the forward and aft sections while making fresh attempts to re-float the front section. The sections have been disconnected and salvors are now making sure that no part of the vessel will make contact with any salvage vessels during the final lifting. KPT hopes that the salvage team will be able to lift the front section in a few days’ time, if everything proceeds smoothly.
21 February 2004 – The federal inquiry in to the grounding of crude oil tanker Tasman Spirit and the subsequent oil spill near Karachi on July 27 last year has identified seven reasons that led to the vessel running aground in the shallow waters. The inquiry, being run by the Mercantile Marine Department (MMD), found that the master of the ship ignored certain crucial facts. Instead of using navigation charts he relied on his own estimations and agreed to enter a channel after the tide had receded, though he was at liberty to refuse to enter the shallow waterway. The causes found by the inquiry committee are the late entrance of the vessel into the channel, delayed actions, slow response of engine and rudder, squat effect, the prevalent weather conditions, the vessel’s failure to maintain its position in the middle of the channel, and unusual amounts of silt in the channel. The Daily Times has obtained a copy of the inquiry report, which has not been made public since it was finalised almost three months ago. The inquiry committee conducted the inquiry under sections 470 and 471 of the Pakistan Merchant Shipping Ordinance 2001, and discussed in detail the reasons for the accident and ultimately attributed Captain Karystinos Dimityios’s decision to allow Tasman Spirit into the channel late to his commercial considerations and a desire to please his employers. The committee observed that the master could have refused to enter the channel considering the weather and the falling tide, as it amounted to taking an undue risk involving the safety of the crew, the vessel and the port. It observed that considering the severity of the prevalent monsoon, actions taken to negotiate the bend should have been started earlier. “Therefore, the exact point from where the vessel had to alter course could well have been over shot, meaning all actions taken after are considered delayed action and attributable to human error,” the inquiry committee said in its findings. The committee also found the slow response of the vessel to be one of the reasons for its grounding, and observed: “The vessel does not appear to have responded well, and it has emerged that turning of the vessel was slow compared with orders given to increase power and subsequently the revulsions on the engine.” The committee also found that the master of the vessel failed to appropriately calculate what is called the squat factor, keeping in view the increase in draught due to the heavy swell before taking the ship into the channel. “After considering the rolling and pitching of the vessel in the heavy swell that day, it would increase draught, and therefore the vessel was navigating with a very unsafe level of clearance under the keel. This could have been one of the reasons for the slow response to the helm and the engine while negotiating the bend in the channel,” the committee said. The committee also noted that though the master declared the draught of the ship to be 11.89–metres, he could not provide documentary evidence of the draught level when he left his previous port, nor was it recorded on the deck logbook. On why the ship drifted towards the Eastern side of the channel, the committee found this to be caused by the slow response of both the engine and the rudder, supplemented by adverse weather and coupled with an ebbing effect. The committee found that the area where the vessel was grounded was prone to silt deposits. However, the committee rejected the effect of silt as having any significance with regard to the grounding of Tasman Spirit.
21 February 2004 – Salvors engaged to lift and remove the forward portion of crude oil tanker Tasman Spirit are set to resume their work this morning. The wreck is to be re-floated and taken to its new destination (Gadani). A source close to the wreck removal operation said yesterday that after four days of concerted efforts, the salvage team succeeded in pushing the ship’s forward portion upwards. Tugs and heavy cranes were used in the re-floating operation. The vessel’s forward portion has gone down deep into the seabed but it is now re-floating at an even position. According to the source, towing of the wreck may begin some time between 08.00 and 11.00 tomorrow. It may take 16-18 hours for the wreck to reach the Gadani ship-breaking yard. Beaching and official proceedings would take place on Monday, said another source.
22 February 2004 – After some cutting work on its lower parts, the front portion of the crude oil tanker Tasman Spirit was finally removed from the Karachi Port Trust channel today for its onward journey to Gadani. According to maritime sources, the towing of the front portion started at around 11.00 hours, with the help of tugs, including one from the KPT. The portion was taken out of the KPT channel after one hour, a source added. After cutting an obstructing plate last night, the salvors went for removal today, when there was a high tide, a source privy to the operation revealed. The KPT termed the operation, during which tugs and heavy cranes were used, successful and mentioned that the portion had headed for Gadani where it would be dismantled further. At a speed of 2 km per hour, and weighing about 5,650 tonnes, the portion, towed by a tug and escorted by another tug, was expected to reach Gadani in 16-18 hours, the source said, adding that the removal operation of the rear portion of the tanker was likely to take another two weeks. The local buyer of the front portion, Muhammad Yasin Memon of SS Enterprize, said that he was expecting the beaching of the ship at Gadani around 06.00 tomorrow. “Practically, we would get possession of the wreck some time tomorrow for further placing at out plot no 67 and 68 of the Gadani ship breaking yard”, he added, and expected that breaking of the portion would follow within a week.
24 February 2004 – The owners of crude oil tanker Tasman Spirit are inviting tenders for the purchase of the aft section of the vessel. The aft section presently lies aground in the Keamari Channel, Karachi, and the intention is to attempt to re-float the section during the week commencing March 1. Bids are to be lodged by 12.00, local time.
28 February 2004 – Karachi Port Trust (KPT) said today that the forward portion of crude oil tanker Tasman Spirit had finally reached Gadani ship-breaking yard for further dismantling. The forward portion was re-floated and removed from the KPT channel on Saturday (February 21) with the support of tugs and a heavy crane. It entered Gadani waters, under the supervision of an international salvage team led by Captain Nicholas Sloane of SMIT Salvage, on Sunday morning. Prior to its beaching, further cutting of steel plates of the ruptured portion was undertaken 2.5 km from the beach, enabling it to reach the ship-breaking yard.
31 January 2004 – Tigris River, IraqOil engineers were today plugging a leak in a northern Iraq pipeline which is polluting the Tigris river, one of the country’s main sources of water, a US military spokeswoman said. “There is a leak unfortunately, right where it crosses over the river, north of Baiji,” the main refinery town for Iraq’s northern oil fields, said Major Josslyn Aberle from the 4th Infantry Division, which patrols the area. She said a faulty weld in the pipeline was causing oil to spill into the Tigris at the Fathah bridge. Large black plates of oil could be seen flowing in the muddy waters of the river, dozens of miles (kilometres) downstream. “The North Oil Company has put up a float barrier to try to contain the leak but some of the oil is seeping through the barrier,” Aberle said. US army engineers who located the leak could not say how much oil had poured into the Tigris, from which water is treated and distributed throughout the country. The river has frequently been polluted by leaks or by rainwater carrying oil from residual pools.
2 February 2004 – St Clair River, Ontario, CanadaUp to 39,000 gallons of toxic chemicals yesterday leaked into the St Clair River across the border near Sarnia, Ontario, forcing the closure of water plants serving tens of thousands of people. The leak was reported yesterday morning at an Imperial Oil plant south of Sarnia in an area known as Chemical Valley. It was later contained. The Ontario Ministry of Environment and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality warned communities near the spill to close off water intakes while the water is tested. Water from the St Clair River flows into Lake St Clair and then into the Detroit River and on into Lake Erie. Intakes were closed for water plants that serve about 36,000 customers in several St Clair County communities, said Jeffrey A. Friedland, the county’s emergency management director. Imperial Oil said in a statement that the spill of methyl-ethyl ketone and methylisobutyl ketone took place between 03.00 and 04.20 hours. The company described the chemicals as low-toxicity solvents used to make lubrication oils.
2 February 2004 – Authorities gave the go-ahead for residents to resume drinking tap water after tests determined a leak of up to 39,000 gallons of toxic chemicals into the St Clair River had not contaminated the water supply. The chemicals leaked yesterday morning across the border near Sarnia, Ontario, forcing the closure of water plants serving tens of thousands of people. St Clair County authorities warned residents of six communities not to drink, cook with or bathe in tap water until tests showed the water was safe. The advisory was lifted early today, environmental officials said. Patricia Spitzley, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, said more testing may be performed in downriver communities today, but “we don’t anticipate more water advisories for Michigan.” The leak was reported at an Imperial Oil plant south of Sarnia in an area known as Chemical Valley. It was later contained. The Ontario Ministry of Environment and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality warned communities near the spill to close off water intakes while the water is tested. Water from the St Clair River flows into Lake St Clair and then into the Detroit River and on into Lake Erie. Intakes were closed for water plants that serve about 36,000 customers in several St Clair County communities, said Jeffrey A. Friedland, the county’s emergency management director. Low water levels later forced five water systems serving six communities in the county to resume drawing from the river before the completion of safety tests, prompting the warnings not to drink or bathe in the water, Friedland said. Imperial Oil said in a statement that the spill of methylethyl ketone and methyl-isobutyl ketone took place between 03.00 and 04.20. The company described the chemicals as low-toxicity solvents used to make lubrication oils. They also can be found in nail polish and paint. “We certainly regret that this incident has occurred, and we are working very closely with the communities downstream to monitor the situation,” said Imperial’s plant manager, Warren Burton. The Ministry of Environment has launched an investigation into how the spill happened.
5 February 2004 – Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, United StatesA commission created eight months ago to investigate the impact of the oil spill in Buzzards Bay, and to recommend changes to the law to protect against similar disasters, will hold its first meeting tomorrow. The meeting will be held at the Statehouse in Boston. The 19-member commission will investigate the spilling of 55,000 gallons of oil into Buzzards Bay on April 27 2003, by a Bouchard Transportation Co. barge. The disaster caused massive environmental and economic damage to the 50 miles of shoreline it polluted. In the wake of the incident, Senator Mark C.W. Montigny (Democrat, New Bedford) and State Representative John F. Quinn (Democrat, Dartmouth) pushed to establish the commission and have it paid for by the state. Both legislators sit on the commission. “Accountability and prevention are the key words here,” Senator Montigny said. “The impact of Bouchard’s actions is still evident all along our coast, and this commission is going to do its best to ensure that Massachusetts never has to endure another environmental tragedy of this nature. Our goal is not to impede upon companies that follow the law, but rather to deter those who may gamble with the health of Buzzards Bay by cutting corners on safety.” The commission will report its findings by the latest on June 30. It had originally planned to complete a final report by November 1, but lengthy budget sessions and delays in appointing members to the commission forced legislators to push the date back.
8 February 2004 – Milford Sound, New ZealandSuspected sabotage has led to a huge diesel spill in the pristine waters of Milford Sound. Around 13,000 litres was pumped out of tanks from passenger Milford Monarch (375 gt, built 1994) into what is known as Fresh Water Basin early this morning, sparking a major clean-up operation and a police investigation into how it happened. The fight to stem the flow of diesel got underway just after dawn. The Milford Monarch has been cordoned off while police look into the cause of the spill. The company which runs the cruise boat is calling it sabotage. Real Journeys chief executive Dave Hawkey says somebody had put a fresh water hose into the vessel’s diesel tanks and diesel had spilled into the fjord. However he says he is baffled as to why someone would do this and hopes the police will find the answer. Specialist oil spill equipment is being used to control the spill, most of which has been contained in the boat harbour, but a two-kilometre slick has spread up the sound towards a marine reserve at Harrison Cove. Mike Pearson of Environment Southland says a diesel spill is seen as less environmentally damaging than oil as it breaks up more easily. The sound is home to the endangered Fiordland crested penguin, and dedicated teams are working to keep the penguins, dolphins, seals and other wildlife in the area safe. Conservation Minister Chris Carter says he would be appalled if sabotage was involved. “It would be an incredibly stupid and dangerous thing to have done. It would be a kind of eco-terrorism.” Meanwhile tourist operators had to turn away to more than 2,000 tourists today.
9 February 2004 – An act of sabotage was believed to be the cause of a large diesel spill in Milford Sound, police said yesterday. About 13,000 litres of diesel spilled from a tank aboard Real Journeys’ 39 m passenger Milford Monarch (375 gt, built 1994) into Freshwater Basin some time between 19.00 on Saturday February 7 and 05.45 yesterday. The spill, about 2-3 mm thick, travelled about 2 km down the sound into the marine reserve as far as Pater and Williamston Points. The basin was closed to charter boats yesterday, disrupting the plans of hundreds of tourists. A decision will be made today about when the basin will re-open. Acting Senior Sergeant Paul Crosswell, of Invercargill, said someone connected a freshwater hose from the jetty into the diesel tank of the boat and turned it on. The water being pumped in displaced the diesel out of the tank, with the fuel spilling into the basin. Police had no idea who was responsible for the spill, and were appealing to the public for help, Mr Crosswell said. Environment Southland and Department of Conservation (DOC) staff, as well as specialists and Milford locals, worked through the day and into the night to clean up the spill, bringing in specialised oil spill response equipment from Bluff. Diesel was soaked up in absorbent pads and mopped up with booms, which were then wrung out into a portable containment tank and reused. Booms were also used in conjunction with the prevailing westerly wind to guide diesel to skimmers, which sucked up the floating diesel to be stored ashore in tanks. Environment Southland on-scene commander Warren Tuckey said favourable weather conditions, with strong winds and 100-120 mm of rain forecast for today, would assist clean-up efforts. Real Journeys chief executive Dave Hawkey said a chef who worked on board the boat discovered the spill when arriving for work at about 05.45 yesterday. There were probably about 2,000 tourists whose plans were wrecked because of the spill, Mr Hawkey said. While wildlife was mostly unaffected, the area contains the world’s rarest species of penguin, the Fiordland crested. Members of the public went out in boats trying to prevent birds from landing in the affected area. DOC spokesman Tom O’Connor said the major concern was the estuarine environment. Apart from the penguins and the wide range of birds, the area contained dolphins and a commercial fishery, Mr O’Connor said. He hoped the effects of the spill would not be too long-lasting.
9 February 2004 – Conservation Minister Chris Carter is calling for a cap on visitor numbers to the Milford Sounds after 13,000 litres of diesel spilled into the pristine inlet on Saturday night in a suspected act of sabotage. The harbour remained closed to tourist operators today while the specialist clean-up operation continued. Police said it appeared a saboteur connected a fresh water hose from the jetty into the diesel tank of Real Journeys’ passenger Milford Monarch and turned it on. The slick, about 2-3 mm thick, travelled about two kilometres down the sound into the marine reserve as far as Pater and Williamston Point. Speaking on national radio this morning, Mr Carter said the incident “could have been disastrous”. “It’s a wake-up call to how we treat our environment: it’s a precious asset which is unique and brings millions of visitors to New Zealand […] it’s a question of how to get the balance right.” While he appreciated this was an isolated incident, it did highlight the impact of tourism on conservation sites, he said. Mr Carter said he was working with Tourism Minister Mark Burton to look at options for “taking the pressure off tourist hotspots” by spreading the load more evenly. National MP Nick Smith labelled Mr Carter’s call for restricted numbers “opportunistic and crass”. The incident appeared to be a stupid act of vandalism and limiting visitor or boat numbers would not reduce the risk of such an incident, Dr Smith said. “A vandal can create an oil spill with only one boat,” he said. “It is as though the minister wants to punish the tourism industry for the acts of a criminal rather than focusing on the criminal.” Mr Carter’s “knee jerk” reaction would do nothing to protect the environment, Dr Smith said. Environment Southland spokeswoman Nikki Waghorn said that staff had worked through the night to contain the spill. “They’ve pumped a significant amount of oily water out of Freshwater Basin and are currently doing an aerial assessment of the oily spots and pockets that remain out there in the sound.” The oily waste water, which was being kept in tanks on land, would probably have to be trucked out, she said. Weather conditions had been “quite favourable” for the clean-up. “We’re expecting heavy rain later today and that will help disperse the oily residue naturally, the bulk of the clean-up should be over today.” The final cost of the clean-up had yet to be calculated. After consultation with the Harbour Master, it had been decided to keep the port closed to tourist operators this morning and reassess the situation at midday. About 2,000 tourists a day usually visit the scenic area at this time of year. What was an appropriate number of visitors was “a matter of constant debate”, Ms Waghorn said. The Milford Development Authority (made up of local politicians and business owners) worked closely with Environment Southland and the Department of Conservation on this issue but it would not be “appropriate” to make snap decisions on the basis on one incident, she said. The man in charge of the clean-up operation, Warren Tuckey from Southland Regional Council, said there was “not a high chance” the port would reopen at midday. While the oily water had been largely pumped out, all the boats in the port were still contaminated, he told National Radio. Apart from “a few oily ducks”, it appeared the impact on wildlife had been minimal. “We’ve had quite a lot of experience with diesel in the environment in recent years, and it looks like the mammals and birds can actually smell the diesel and are staying right out of it.” The area contains the world’s rarest species of penguin, the Fiordland crested, and a wide range of birds, as well as dolphins and a commercial fishery. Volunteers went out in boats yesterday to prevent birds from landing in the affected area. DOC spokesman Tom O’Connor said yesterday the major concern was the estuarine environment. “There’s not much in the way of marine estuaries in Fiordland – Milford is one of the few places it exists.” Real Journeys chief executive Dave Hawkey said a chef who worked on board the boat discovered the spill when arriving for work at about 05.45, local time, yesterday. “We have no idea why someone would do such a horrible thing to such a beautiful place – it’s now in the hands of the police,” he said today. Real Journeys staff had been working with the clean-up crews through the night. The disruption was costing tourism companies dearly, he agreed. “But we haven’t been counting the dollars lost at this stage – our priority has been on repairing the damage.” The company would be assessing its security arrangements, “as many others will around the country in light of this incident”, he said. In his submission to the Fiordland National Park management plan, Mr Hawkey said he would not be opposed to a cap on visitor numbers “if that was done after proper research and objective thinking”. “However, this diesel spill and the question of visitor numbers are totally unrelated in my view. You could have as few as 100 people here, and it could’ve still happened.”
9 February 2004 – Milford Sound reopened to tourist boat operators today after a two-day clean-up of a large diesel spill in the port, believed to be the result of sabotage. Up to 14,000 litres of diesel spilled from a tank on board passenger Milford Monarch into Freshwater Basin on Febraury 7. The head of the clean-up operation, Warren Tuckey from Environment Southland, said heavy rain overnight had helped break up the remnants of the slick. The diesel is dispersing naturally, moving around the sound with the tide and wind. There is still a sheen clinging to the hulls of the tourist boats docked in the port and the clean-up team would move in once the vessels left at 09.00 hours. Specialist oil spill response staff, assisted by tourism company workers and Milford residents, worked night and day to clean up the port. Oily water was sucked out of Freshwater Basin and was being stored in tanks on land. Environment Southland spokeswoman said there was still an oily sheen out in the sounds and the clean-up specialists would be reassessing the situation at lunchtime. The final cost of the clean-up and the loss to tourist operators had yet to be calculated. While it appeared the impact on wildlife had been minimal, Conservation Minister, Chris Carter, yesterday called for an inquiry into the incident. An oil boom remained in place across the harbour overnight. Real Journeys cancelled its scheduled overnight cruises and staff were deployed into the clean-up operation. Chief executive Dave Hawkey said the loss in revenue to Milford would have been “hundreds of thousands of dollars”.
10 February 2004 – Life was almost back to normal for cruise operators and tourists at Milford Sound, today, after Sunday’s big diesel spill. Environment Southland harbour master, Mike Pearson, said there were no visible signs of diesel in Freshwater Basin port and clean-up teams were packing up.
18 February 2004 – Bayelsa State, NigeriaNigeria’s oil major, the Shell Petroleum Development Company, yesterday announced that a spill has occurred on its 24-inch Trans-Ramos crude oil pipeline near Aghoro II Community in Bayelsa State, wasting an estimated seven hundred barrels of oil. Shell’s External Relations Manager (Western Division), Mr Frank Efeduma, who made the disclosure yesterday, attributed the spillage to the activities of some unknown persons who allegedly vandalised the facility. A joint investigation visit (JIV) comprising of the Directorate of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Nigeria Police, Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment, leaders of the host community as well as officials of SPDC has inspected the spill site. According to Efeduma, the report of the visit indicates that the incident resulted from sabotage as the team “observed that there were three neatly drilled holes on a section of the pipeline near the manifold”. SPDC, Efeduma further disclosed, had initiated spill containment activities that involved immediate close-in of production of 158,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd), the deployment of booms in the area to avoid spread of oil as well as the clamping of the holes allegedly drilled by the vandals. Apparently not comfortable with the sabotage theory, an indigenous surveillance contractor in charge of the pipeline has called for a presidential inquiry into the spill incident, which he described as a blackmail on indigenous oil field contractors.
20 February 2004 – GenMar Alexandra (Marshall Islands)The following was received from the Coast Guard, New Orleans, timed 15.25, UTC: Crude oil tanker GenMar Alexandra (56,012 gt, built 1992), moored at Valero Dock, Mile 125, River Mississippi, was in contact with bulk Bright State (36,120 gt, built 1989) at 02.00, UTC, today. GenMar Alexandra sustained two holes above its waterline, resulting in oil discharge into the River Mississippi, leading to same being closed. Oil has been largely contained and is dissipating and it is hoped to reopen the river soon.
20 February 2004 – Bulk Bright State ran into crude oil tanker GenMar Alexandra, moored in the Mississippi River, this morning, causing about 22,000 gallons of oil to spill into the water, the US Coast Guard said. Authorities closed a 50-mile stretch of the river between Norco and Belle Chasse to maritime traffic, except for ferries, which were permitted to operate on schedule. A containment boom was in place within a few hours after the accident and the Coast Guard said the leak had been contained by 10.30. Pollution response teams and marine inspectors were assisted with clean-up. No injuries to people or wildlife were reported in the spill, which occurred about 30 west of New Orleans. The Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Office in New Orleans is investigating the cause of the accident.
21 February 2004 – General Maritime Management reported earlier that their vessel, crude oil tanker GenMar Alexandra, while safely docked at a terminal in St Charles, LA, was struck by bulk Bright State at approximately 20.30, CST, yesterday. The contact resulted in a hole in one of Genmar Alexandra’s auxiliary fuel tanks and the release of approximately 500 barrels of fuel oil into the river. There were no injuries and no cargo was lost. General Maritime Management has activated its emergency response plan and its US spill response contractor Gallagher Marine Systems is on site. Oil containment and recovery operations have been initiated in conjunction with the US Coast Guard.
20 February 2004 – A 17-mile stretch of the Mississippi River near New Orleans opened at noon, local time, today after being closed when bunker fuel spilled from crude oil tanker GenMar Alexandra last night, the US Coast Guard said. The spill occurred after the vessel was struck by bulk Bright State at about 20.00, local time, yesterday, the Coast Guard said. The leak was contained by booms at about 22.30 hours. The Coast Guard, which originally shut a 50-mile stretch south of the accident site at Norco, Louisiana, reduced the closed section to a stretch between the towns of Algiers and Belle Chasse, LA, at about 10.30 today, Lieutenant Commander Greg Depine said. At noon, the closing order was lifted, the Coast Guard said. GenMar Alexandra was moored at a Valero Energy Corp. dock at Norco when it was struck by Bright State, the Coast Guard said. No one was injured and the Coast Guard said it had received no reports of injuries to wildlife from the fuel spill.
21 February 2004 – Crude oil tanker GenMar Alexandra and bulk Bright State are still in the same position, in the area of Mile 125, River Mississippi, with investigations under way into the collision.
21 February 2004 – An oil spill along the Mississippi River in St Charles Parish disrupted ship traffic along a 50-mile stretch of the lower sections of the waterway yesterday morning as crews mopped up 22,000 gallons of dumped fuel oil. The spill occurred about 20.00 Thursday (February 19) when bulk Bright State struck the side of tanker GenMar Alexandra as Bright State sailed upriver near Norco. The tanker was docked at the Valero St Charles Refinery. No injuries were reported in the accident and the cause of the collision is still under investigation. The fuel tank leak was stopped by 20.30 Thursday, but spilled oil remained in the river through Friday night. St Charles officials say they were notified about the accident shortly after it occurred and immediately shut down their two water intake valves. The two sites, in Luling and New Sarpy, siphon more than 7 million gallons daily of river water that is used for the parish’s drinking supply. “It caused some concern, but the spill was below or south of the (New Sarpy) intake,” said Robert Brou, director of St Charles Water Works. However, both intakes were shut off overnight and for about two hours after the spill had moved downriver yesterday, Brou said. “We’re back up and running with no effect to residents at all.” Drinking water monitored by officials in Jefferson and Orleans parishes, which also draw drinking water from the river, said the spill did not affect their water supply, but would continue to monitor the situation. Thursday’s accident occurred as Bright State sailed upriver through a bend in the river about 125 miles above Head-of-Passes, Coast Guard spokesman Cmdr Chris Hogan said. The freighter punched two holes into the port side of the tanker, Hogan said. One gash was six feet above the surface of the river, running ten feet long and three feet wide. The other hole was two feet higher on the ship’s side, running 35 feet long and four feet wide. The spilled fuel oil seeped from the ship’s own fuel tank through the lower hole, Hogan said. None of the 190,000 gallons of crude oil on board the tanker was spilled, and the ship’s cargo holds were not breached in the accident, he said. Oil Mop Inc. of Belle Chasse headed the clean-up effort, which involved about 60 people and 20 small boats, Hogan said. The US Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration dispatched a team of scientists from its Office of Response and Restoration to New Orleans to evaluate the spill’s impact on natural resources. The river was reopened to ship traffic at about noon yesterday even though the clean up continued along portions of the waterway between Algiers Point in New Orleans and the Belle Chasse ferry crossing in Plaquemines Parish. The arrival of one container ship to the Port of New Orleans’ Napoleon Avenue container terminal was delayed for several hours until the river was reopened. The port also had been concerned that another vessel, a cruise ship, would need to be anchored or possibly rerouted. But that ship should arrive at the port today without incident, port spokesman Paul Dauphin said. Hogan said Coast Guard investigators were not yet able to say exactly why the accident happened. Investigators tested Bright State’s propulsion and steering systems after the accident and found them to be operational, he said. Bright State was carrying 66,934 tons of barite for delivery upriver. Crew members of the freighter and the state-commissioned river pilot who was guiding the vessel were tested for drugs and alcohol by Coast Guard investigators after the accident, Hogan said. Those tests, which are standard procedure after an accident, should be back in about a week, he said. The freighter pilot, John McCormack Brown was also tested for drugs and alcohol by the New Orleans-Baton Rouge Steamship Pilots Association Board of Examiners, board attorney Peter Connick said Thursday.
20 February 2004 – Prestige (Bahamas)The administrator of the Liberian company that managed sunken crude oil tanker Prestige has been subpoenaed to testify on the November 2002 disaster. Investigating magistrate Francisco Javier Collazo of Corcubion has ordered Michael Margretis of Universe Maritime to appear in court to respond to questions about “the vessel’s situation and condition” after it cracked its hull in a storm on 13 November 2002, news reports said today. Both state-run news agency Efe and private news agency Europa Press reported that the judge had issued the order but did not elaborate about when Margretis’s court appearance could take place. The vessel broke in two and sank six days later off the coast of Northwest Spain as it was being towed out to sea on orders from the Spanish Government. The ship spilled 85 per cent of the 77,000 tonnes of thick fuel oil it was carrying, fouling hundreds of kilometres of coast and temporarily idling thousands of fishermen and other maritime workers. The vessel’s Greek master, Apostolos Mangouras, remains under investigation but has not been formally charged. Last year he posted a $3.8 million bail, under which he is barred from leaving Spain. Mangouras is accused of disobeying authorities and damaging the environment. Authorities allege he refused for hours to let rescue crews secure cables to his stricken vessel as it drifted close to shore.
24 February 2004 – The Spanish judge in the case involving crude oil tanker Prestigehas summoned Michael Margetis, operations manager for the vessel’s Greek operator, Universe Maritime, for questioning as an “imputado” in the criminal investigation into the casualty being heard in a court in Galicia. Under Spanish law, the type of summons means that questioning will effectively be under caution and could lead to charges against Captain Margetis. With this latest resolution, the Universe Maritime manager joins Apostolos Mangouras, the vessel’s master, and Jose Luis Lopez Sors, director general of Spain’s merchant marine directorate, as the third “imputado” named in the case. Captain Mangouras faces charges of disobeying orders from the Spanish maritime authorities and of causing environmental damage, while Mr Lopez Sors could also be held accountable over his widely criticised decision to send the damaged tanker out to sea. Spanish government lawyers described the latest court order as a “very important step” towards trying to unravel the complex web of companies behind the Prestige and hold them accountable for the accident. They allege that Universe Maritime holds a share of responsibility for the accident because it was operating what Spain believes was a substandard vessel. Sources close to Universe Maritime confirmed the latest legal development but were still digesting its implications, adding that it was too soon to say whether Capt Margetis would willingly travel to Spain to give evidence or, indeed, whether he could be forced to do so under extradition agreements between Madrid and Athens. Spanish state lawyers first asked the judge to summon Captain Margetis in May last year.