Bunkering spill vessel fined

Chrysanthi S must also cover costs of clean up and rehabilitation of seabirds

Marine rangers remove heavily oiled penguins from St Croix Island shortly after the July 6 spill. St Croix in Algoa Bay is home to the biggest colony of the endangered African penguin across its global range and total population of 15200 pairs Picture: LLOYD EDWARDS
Marine rangers remove heavily oiled penguins from St Croix Island shortly after the July 6 spill. St Croix in Algoa Bay is home to the biggest colony of the endangered African penguin across its global range and total population of 15200 pairs Picture: LLOYD EDWARDS
Image: Lloyd Edwards / Raggy Charters

The authorities have fined the Liberian vessel Chrysanthi S R350,000 following the bunkering oil spill in Algoa Bay in the first week of July.

The vessel was being refuelled by bunkering company South African Marine Fuels at an anchorage off the Port of Ngqura in the early hours of July 6 when an estimated 200l-400l of oil spilled into the sea.

Although the resultant slick was relatively small, more than 100 endangered African penguins were oiled and marine conservationists have pointed again to the danger posed by the controversial bunkering sector which was launched in Algoa Bay in 2016.

Aegean, the first bunkering company to receive a license for Algoa Bay, has also been involved in a spill. The incident involved 200l and occurred three months after it started operating in the bay.

South African Maritime Safety Authority consultant Capt Nigel Campbell said on Monday the authority had enforced a dual penalty on the Chrysanthi S.

“We issued them with a fine of R350,000 and also obtained a letter of guarantee for R5m security to cover the clean-up.”

Ngqura Samsa principal officer Cape Ian Renders confirmed the fine had been paid and the Chrysanthi S had been allowed to continue its voyage to Argentina.

The security would also cover the cost of rehabilitating the oiled seabirds, he said.

Campbell said the investigation into the part played by the bunkering company was meanwhile continuing.

Immediately after the incident the authority ordered the bunkering to scale back to days-only operations and this regime would remain in place at least until the conclusion of the investigation, he said.

Stacey Webb, regional manager of the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds said on Monday that her team had dealt with 120 oiled birds since the spill occurred. These comprised 90 adult African penguins, 13 penguin chicks, 13 Cape gannets and four Cape cormorants.

“Two penguin chicks did not make it and neither did any of the five penguin eggs we tried to save.”

Oiled birds were still coming in, she said.

“We got a penguin earlier today and we have received a report from a charter vessel of oiled birds at sea so we are expected more arrivals.”

Webb said the foundation were submitting claim for their costs to the insurers covering the spill but they first had to meet these costs up front.

“It’s not ideal because we’re a non-profit company and we don’t really have the funds but at the moment it’s the way the system works.”

 

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