THE Gibraltar Government has declared the break-up of the OS 35 off Catalan Bay a Major Incident to direct all major resources to fight an impending fuel spill.
With the Gibraltar Port Authority (GPA) directing all its resources to the spill, across the bay, the captain of the Algeciras port is getting boats and a helicopter to the scene.
The biggest fear is that the ship could empty its fully loaded supplies of oil, diesel and lube oil into the Mediterranean Sea.
Some liquid has already started leaking from the wrecked ship.
“Initial investigations indicate that this is lube oil,” said the Gibraltar Government in a statement.
“This lube oil is currently contained within the primary boom and all efforts will be made to remove it from the sea using a skimmer and sludge barge before it is able to leak from within the boom,” it added.
Even if this escalation has surprised many, the Gibraltar Government said it was ‘working towards this posture throughout’.
The salvage master told the Master of the Port that ‘all fuel valves were isolated before the break occurred’.
The potential disaster unfolded after the OS 35 hit an ADAM LNG ship on the way out of the Bay of Gibraltar.
The ADAM LNG was undamaged and continued on its journey but the OS 35 sustained a large gash that forced it to run aground off Catalan Bay.
The Major Incident – or MAJAX – will now work to try to contain any environmental damage that could occur.
As a result, all fuel-containing booms are now being put into action.
Two tugs will work in U formation to bring together any oil that spills from the primary boom.
GPA boats will then lay another boom along the coastline to protect Gibraltar beaches.
A Salvamento Maritimo helicopter from Algeciras is now flying over the area.
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo has briefed the Leader of the Opposition, the President of the Andalucian regional government, the president of the Cadiz provincial government and neighbouring mayors of La Linea and San Roque.