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Emergency measures quickly contains oil spill

Emergency measures quickly contains oil spill

Niël Terblanché
AN oil spill that originated from a tanker vessel that moored in the port of Walvis Bay to deliver fuel products to Namibia over the weekend has been contained.
Environmental concern groups have, since news of the oil spill broke, spent time and resources combing the beaches to the north of Walvis Bay for affected marine and bird life, but up until Wednesday no serious cases were reported
The tanker vessel Ursu sprung a leak from one of its fuel oil tanks shortly after it arrived in the harbour. After the pumping fuel products into the land based storage system in the port facilities was completed, the ship was put alongside the main quay of the harbour to affect repairs to the leaking fuel tank.

Pictured: Tar balls formed by the most recent oil spill in the Walvis Bay harbour which washed ashore on Independence Beach. The stern of the Ursu and the huge amount of heavy fuel oil that leaked from one of its storage holds. Photos: Contributed

According to an official statement issued by the Ministry of Works and Transport, the oil leak was relatively small and emergency teams in the harbour were able to contain and clear up the bulk of the heavy fuel oil that leaked into the ocean.
Some of the oil did however escape the floating containment area emergency teams created at the stern of the ship and is currently washing ashore in the form of tar balls at Independence Beach. Some of the tar balls have also washed up at Long Beach to the north of Walvis Bay.
According to the statement the Directorate of Maritime Affairs (DMA) activated the National Marine Pollution Contingency Plan of 2017 and did an initial assessment to determine the scale of the impact in order to devise strategies to respond to the contamination.
“About a hundred metres of shoreline is affected with a one to two metre wide cover of the intertidal zone. The oil pollution is mostly made up of tar balls with a sporadic 1- 10 percent distribution.”
In the meantime the owner of the Ursu has contracted a local Walvis Bay company to clean up the affected areas under the supervision of Government representatives. The company contracted to affect the clean-up is also tasked to be ready to respond and clear up any oil that might still reach the shore.
“We are not aware of any reports of oiled coastal or seabirds or any other fauna found in difficulty as a result of this pollution event. The public is assured that the situation is under control and that the affected areas will be cleaned up in due course. At the same time the public is requested to allow response teams enough space and time to do their very important work.”
The DMA further encouraged the public to report any maritime pollution, especially oils spills, directly to their offices.

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