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Latest update on the ship wreck crisis by the JOC Goukamma Nature Reserve

16 August 2013

After numerous attempts over the last few days to pull the stranded vessel from the sandbank SAMSA confirmed that they managed to pivot the vessel by 70 degrees, now pointing out to sea, bow facing the wave actions.   The vessel is still structurally sound and the engineers do not foresee immediate structural problems.  Unfortunately the vessel’s stern side is still lodged on the sandbank and SAMSA officials have decided to activate further steps to try to lighten the vessel.

Helicopter reports continue to report no oil in the water and no more leaks from the ship. The natural cleaning processes of the ocean have also reduced the oil on the beaches. Once the ship has left the area, intensive cleaning operations will begin.

Operations at land-based JOC

More than 350 people from some 20 organisations and stakeholders continue to work well together to address the many issues caused by the oil spill.  The persons dealing with this crisis are experts in their field, in some cases from across the world, and know what they are doing. While the JOC appreciates all offers of help and expertise, the unique circumstances of operating inside a Nature Reserve and Marine Protected Area excludes many of the usual methods in which operations may take place. All the legally required bodies are represented.

  • Preparations for major clean-up will only happen once the ship has been removed - once the full impact of the spill has been assessed and the ship is out of the area and no longer a spill risk. This is to ensure minimum impact on the environment as continuous removal of little bits of oil is counterproductive and places unnecessary pressure on resources.  Under the current circumstances the clean-up operations are expected to take several weeks, depending on the amount of oil remaining on the beach.

  • Precautionary measures to protect the estuaries of Goukamma, Swartvlei and Knysna will continue.

  • An oil rapid response team is in place and deals with ad hoc spills as necessary.

The JOC expresses sincere thanks to the hundreds of members of the public, organisations and businesses who assist and support our efforts constructively throughout the region. “From food and firewood for the JOC teams to cleaning products and fish for the penguins, the communities of the Garden Route, Western and Eastern Cape have overwhelmed us with their willingness to help. There have also been significant assistance from others from around the country and abroad – it is really touching to know that people care so much for our people and our environment,” says JOC Incident Coordinator Richard Meyer.

Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Mr Alan Winde visited the site yesterday (15 August). He had the following to say: “I am pleasantly surprised to see the progress on the ground and that the overall picture is improving. On behalf of the environment, surrounding towns and the tourism industry, I thank the teams that are doing such a great job,” said Mr Winde.

Roleplayers include the South Africa Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), national Department Environmental Affairs (DEA) Oceans and Coast, Knysna Municipality, Eden District, Municipality, CapeNature, SANParks, National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Knysna and Wilderness, Southern Cape Fire Protection Association (SCFPA), SARS Customs, SAPS Sea Border Unit, NMMU (research unit), Western Cape Provincial Traffic Department, SANCCOB (bird protection agency), SANDF and several specialised service providers.

Birds and Animals:

  • A sea bird and animal rescue team is in place.

  • So far, 35 oiled penguins have been rescued, cleaned and sent for rehabilitation.

  • Penguins have come ashore from Cape St Francis to Victoria Bay, and locals are asked to look out for them all along the Western and Eastern Cape coasts.

  • No bird or animal mortalities have so far been reported in vicinity of the ship.

  • Report oil affected birds to 082 326 4143 or 072 670 5108 or 083 454 2284

  • Reported oil affected marine animals to 082 665 3770

  • Reports can also be made to the JOC Report Centre number: 044 805 5071