Race to avert oil spill

Maritime authorities are working against the clock to avert the second environmental disaster in two weeks, as the bulk carrier VS Smart ran aground just off Richards Bay on Monday.

The Department of Environmental Affairs has sent an emergency response team to the Richards Bay area to be at hand should the ship break up further and up to 2000t of oil spill into the ocean.

Spokesman Zolile Nqayi said the department’s priority is to close off the Mhlathuze Sanctuary – south of the wreckage – from any possible oil spills.

“The sanctuary is a breeding and nursing area for important fish species, and it provides a home to over 20000 birds,” said Nqayi.The Greek-owned VS Smart ran aground carrying 149t of coal on Monday after it lost steering, four minutes after the harbour pilot handed control over to its captain, said Sobantu Tilayi, chief operating officer of the South African Maritime Safety Authority. Read on TimesLIVE >

[How ironic given the recent delay of the Oil Pollution bill… Ed]

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