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Salvors prepare for another weekend of swells and warn of further pollution from OS 35 wreck

The Gibraltar Government warned that more residual oil would likely escape from the wreck of the OS 35 as a result of heavy swells expected this weekend.

The Captain of the Port, John Ghio, has formulated a plan with salvage company Resolve Marine to prepare for the rough weather expected as from Saturday afternoon.

The plan, which has been shared with the Spanish authorities, includes maintain salvage and support vessels on site in order to tackle any pollution before it reaches the shoreline.

“The escape of some oil residues from the vessel as a result of the swell can be reasonably expected,” the Government said in a statement after the latest meeting of the Recovery Coordination Group chaired by Port Minister Vijay Daryanani.

“The Gibraltar Port Authority will deploy additional resources to the site in order to mitigate the impact of any oil that escapes the vessel, and in close coordination with Salvamar will remain on site throughout the weekend for as long as weather conditions are safe to do so.”

“This will allow them to react to the impacts of the swell on the vessel as quickly as possible.”

On Friday morning, diving operations recovered some oil residues from the wreck of the vessel, which is settled on the seabed some 700m off Catalan Bay.

The perimeter boom around the vessel will be removed in stages in order to prevent it from becoming damaged and generating debris during the swells.

The boom will be cleaned and refurbished during the time that it is removed and will be ready for redeployment by Monday morning if weather conditions permit.

Separately, the Department of the Environment continues to conduct daily shoreline assessments.

The clean-up operation at Seven Sisters is ongoing, with pebble washing to continue over the course of the weekend.

Earlier this week, the Gibraltar Port Authority said the wreck of the OS 35 could be completely removed from opposite Catalan Bay by the end of May next year, according to an indicative timeline for the operation.

QBE Europe SA/NV, the shipowner’s P&I insurer, has invited tenders from specialist companies for the wreck removal and expects to select a bid and present it to the Gibraltar Port Authority for approval by the first week of November.

The process of removing the wreck will be dynamic, however, and will depend in large part on the impact of the weather on operations.

But even factoring in weather disruption, the GPA and the insurer, who are working closely in planning for the wreck removal, believe the operation could be completed by May 30, 2023, and ahead of the bathing season.

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