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OS 35 boom to be removed on Sunday

Archive image of the boom around OS35 being redeployed earlier this week following adverse weather conditions last week. Weather conditions resulted in an oil spill that closed some of the beaches on the east side for a short period while a clean-up operation was undertaken. Photo by Johnny Bugeja

The protective boom around the wreck of the OS 35 will be removed again on Sunday ahead of bad weather.

The boom serves to contain any leaks of residual oil left on the wreck but is not effective in rough seas, which could also damage it and lead to secondary pollution.

The update was provided by the Captain of the Port, John Ghio, during a briefing on Friday to the OS 35 Recovery Coordinating Group, chaired by the Minster for the Port, Vijay Daryanani.

This is the second time in as many weeks that the boom has had to be removed due to bad weather.

“During this time, the Gibraltar Port Authority, together with the Department of the Environment and the wreck removal contractors Koole, will heighten their environmental protection monitoring and, where it is deemed logistically possible and safe to do so, will initiate the clean-up of any oil residues which may be encountered,” said a statement from the Port Authority.

The boom will be replaced as soon as weather conditions allow.

Earlier this month after the boom was removed, residual oil leaked from the wreck and washed ashore, raising initial concern about the potential environmental impact.

However a shoreline clean-up operation managed to mitigate any damage and remove tar balls that made it to the coastline.

The oil released from the vessel was what was left on board in pipes running through the keel from the fuel tank in the bow section to the stern section of the vessel, which is now broken into two parts.

The OS 35 was carrying 183 tonnes of heavy fuel oil for its own consumption, alongside 250 tonnes of diesel and 27 tonnes of lube oil.

All of those fuels were removed during early stages of the salvage operation but the wreck still contained residual coatings in the fuel tanks and pipes and salvors had warned from the outset that further pollution was possible.

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