‘No Danger of Oil Spill’

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK MFV ‘Holmatindur’, the vessel that capsized last week Wednesday at the port of Walvis Bay is carrying 20ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 litres (20 tonnes) of oil, which could be potentially hazardous to marine life should there be any leakage. The vessel that belongs to Sea Flower, a LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz-based fishing company, was booked in for its annual dry-dock maintenance when it capsized. The cause of the accident remains unknown although speculation is rife that it could be related to problems of balance. Yesterday, the Port Captain at Namibia Ports Authority (NamPort), Musa Mandia, confirmed to New Era that the vessel had on board 20ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 litres of oil. He assured that there is no potential danger of oil leakage. Mandia said Namib Marine Services and Namdog, under the Elgin Brown & Hamer (EBH), have been appointed by the vessel company owner to salvage the vessel. It is estimated that it will take between three weeks and one month for the vessel to be re-floated. Namib Marine Resources and Elgin Brown & Hamer are currently planning how to salvage MFV “Holmatindur”. “They are working on the plans before the salvaging process. They have to get technical information before the process because without it (information), the potential danger is that it can capsize again,” he expanded. Efforts to get comment stonewalled as Elgin Brown & Hamer referred this journalist to Namib Marine Resources, and vice-versa. Comment could not be obtained from the vessel owner as the captain of the company was reported to be out of office yesterday. Principal Biologist in the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Beau Tjizoo, said the impact of the oil on marine life would have been catastrophic had there been any leakage. The first creatures that would have been affected would have been oysters and mussels. He commended NamPort for putting in place contingency plans such as “cordoning’ the area where the vessel sunk with a special pipe that would suck up the oil in case of a leakage. Further, the special pipe would also contain the oil in case of a spill. “It is a calm environment that makes it easier to contain the situation should a need arise. I do not foresee any impact on marine life,” Tjizoo said. The capsizing of the vessel has not only raised fear of potential marine life disturbance should there be any leakage, but has also affected the berth as it blocks other vessels to be “worked on”. The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources this week declined to shed more light on the capsized “Holmatindur”, saying investigations into the incident continue. No injuries were reported and salvage operators are working on a plan to float the vessel again, said Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Dr Abraham Iyambo. Impact of Fuel or Oil Spills Oil spills present the potential for enormous harm to deep-ocean and coastal fishing and fisheries. The immediate effects of toxic and smothering oil waste may be mass mortality and contamination of fish and other food species, but long-term ecological effects may be worse. Oil waste poisons the sensitive marine and coastal organic substrate, interrupting the food chain on which fish and sea creatures depend and on which their reproductive success is based. Commercial fishing enterprises may be affected permanently. Wildlife other than fish and sea creatures, including mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds that live in or near the ocean, are also poisoned by oil. The hazards for wildlife include toxic effects of exposure or ingestion, injuries such as smothering and deterioration of thermal insulation and damage to their reproductive systems and behaviour. Long-term ecological effects that contaminate or destroy the marine organic substrate and thereby interrupt the food chain are also harmful to the wildlife, so species populations may change or disappear. Source: Water Encyclopedia http://www.waterencyclopedia.com