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Oil spill gas tanker released from detention after operator pays £1.5m bond

RELEASED: The gas tanker Gas Venus is seen in the bay as volunteers from the Nautilus Project prepare to help clean up areas of Rosia Bay hit by last week’s oil spill. Photo by Johnny Bugeja

The gas tanker that leaked fuel oil into the Bay of Gibraltar last week during a bunkering operation was released from detention on Thursday and allowed to sail from the Rock after its operator deposited a £1.5m bond to cover clean-up costs.

The vessel Gas Venus departed Gibraltar late Thursday evening.

The ship was detained on the day of the spill while an investigation was conducted into the cause of the incident.

Officials estimate that between 1000 and 2000 litres of heavy fuel oil entered the sea when something went wrong during a refuelling operation at anchorage just off the South Mole.

The spill reached areas of the rocky shoreline, particularly in the area of Rosia Bay where a clean-up operation has been going non-stop to remove as much of the oil as possible from what is classed as a sensitive conservation site.

While the spill was relatively minor and most of the oil has been mopped up thanks to the efforts of official clean-up teams and volunteers, the incident has again focused attention on the impact of commercial maritime activity on the environment in British territorial waters around the Rock.

The detention order on the Gas Venus was lifted under the authority of the Captain of the Port, John Ghio, upon the receipt by the Gibraltar Port Authority of a cash bond in the sum of £1.5 million.

“This ensures that the costs of all oil spill response and clean-up operations are covered,” No.6 Convent Place said in a statement.

“The vessel’s departure from Gibraltar will have no effect on the ongoing investigation as all evidence from the Gas Venus has already been collected.”

“Clean-up operations remain focused on the area of Rosia Bay and continue to progress well.”

In the wake of the incident, the ship’s captain, 56, was interviewed and arrested by the Royal Gibraltar Police on suspicion of a pollution offence under port rules.

The captain remains on police bail and is in Gibraltar.

He is due to surrender to bail within the next two weeks.

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