Bunker fuel pumped from grounded Cape Town ship

Pumping operations continue as fuel oil is removed from coal bulk carrier.

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Updated on 16 Sep 2009 09:20 GMT

About 250 tonnes of fuel have been pumped out of a grounded ship in Cape Town, the SA Marine Safety Authority (Samsa) said on Tuesday.

"Pumping operations continue 24 hours a day as weather and sea conditions allow and skimming of oil in the flooded engine room space is nearing completion," said captain Dave Colly in a statement.

Salvors have started investigating various cargo removal options and methodologies in consultation with Samsa, department of environmental affairs and other relevant authorities.

"Concern remains that high seas predicted until Friday may cause some residual oil to be released from the casualty, and proactive precautionary measures put in place to reduce the environmental impact of any oil pollution remain in effect," added Colly.

The ship, Seli 1, ran aground just before midnight on September 7, after massive swells and gale force winds sent waves crashing over the bow of the 77 metre Panama-registered coal bulk-carrier, which rolled and listed in the rising tide.

The ship was carrying some 660 tonnes of fuel and a cargo of 30 000 tonnes of coal.

Twenty-five Turkish crew members had to be rescued. One of them was treated for mild hypothermia.

Although the vessel's fuel tanks remained intact, the fuel had to be removed to avoid the risk of oil pollution.

Response teams were on standby and with the assistance of the City of Cape Town's environmental resource management department.

The department of environmental affairs has deployed a boom at the mouth of Milnerton Lagoon and remains on site, to prevent spillage.