Work continues to save South African nature reserve from oil spill

Sep 16, 2002 02:00 AM

South African environmentalists are working tirelessly to protect a coastal conservation area from an oil spill. Salvage workers have already used earth moving machinery and oil booms to reinforce a natural sand bar closing off the mouth of the sensitive estuary.
They now aim to re-float the beached leaking vessel so it can be towed away from the area in a process that will take at least 48 hours.

Italian-registered The Jolly Rubino was abandoned on September 13 after an engine fire blazed out of control.
It ran aground 300 metres off Cape St Lucia, about 370 miles east of Johannesburg and within the boundaries of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park. The ship's position threatens the Umfolozi River and a nearby estuary accommodating mangroves, crocodiles, hippos and a turtle nesting area.

Officials say the situation is manageable at present, but say that will quickly change if the condition of the ship worsens. Spokesman for the provincial wildlife board Jeff Gaisford said: "The situation at the moment is by no means an ecological crisis. Although if the ship cracks any further and releases more oil, that would change."
The 30,000-ton ship developed a crack on September 13 and began leaking a small stream of oil and diesel fuel. It is carrying 1.2 mm litres of fuel oil and 300,000 litres of gasoline. The cargo also included highly-combustible acetone and methanol as well as the toxic chemical phenol.

Source: Ananova
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