Oil pollution threatens South African coastline

Oct 20, 2004 02:00 AM

Although the amount of oil spilled from the stricken BBC China might be relatively small, it stretches one nautical mile north of the vessel and three nautical miles south of it, it is starting to wash up on Wild Coast beaches. A task team set up by the provincial Department of Environment Affairs has employed 20 additional people to clean up oil that is starting to wash up on the rocky shoreline around Grosvenor Point, MEC Andre de Wet said.
"The coastline is a difficult area to get to but the locals are concerned and want to help", he said adding that more people would be employed in the clean-up operation.

The vessel, which ran aground at Grosvenor Point, is leaking oil from three places which are all difficult for salvers to reach, Captain Bill Dernier of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMS) said.
The BBC China, a 6 500 ton heavy lift cargo ship, hit a sandbank 150 metres off shore near Mbotyi. Captain Alan Peterson of the Marine Safety Co-ordination Centre (MSCC) suggested the ship was too close to the shore, saying "ships should normally sail about three to four nautical miles off the shore." Peterson also said the four-year-old ship should be equipped with computerised navigation charts that would allow it to navigate the vessel safely.

The BBC China was embroiled in controversy about a year ago when it reportedly carried parts of sophisticated centrifuges intended for use in building uranium enrichment plants.
Dernier said that the BBC China was not currently carrying any suspicious cargo, but this could only be confirmed once the vessel had been inspected. Salvage operations will continue.

Source: Daily Dispatch
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