From: Associated Press
Published October 20, 2004 12:00 AM

Weather Hampers Oil Pumping Bid on Wrecked Ship in South Africa

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — Strong winds and choppy seas Tuesday were still hampering efforts to pump about 120 tons of oil from the sunken BBC China cargo ship, the maritime safety authority said.

The general cargo ship was carrying 2,800 tons of sub-assembled steel equipment from Port of Spain, Trinidad, to Durban, South Africa, when it ran aground about 150 meters (164 yards) off Port Grosvenor on the Kwa Zulu Natal Wild Coast late Saturday.

A rescue helicopter was called in early Sunday, and 16 members of the mostly Ukrainian crew were airlifted to safety.

Captain Bill Dernier of the South African Maritime Safety Authority said that 30 mph (46 kph) winds were slowing the oil transfer process.

"We have helicopters transporting gear onto the wreck, and the necessary equipment is in place.... We could start pumping the oil off by tonight or early tomorrow," Dernier said. "It all depends on the weather."

There is no threat to the environment, although "some oil" had leaked out, said Dernier, the operations manager for the government agency responsible for pollution prevention and wreck removal.

The 122-meter (400-foot) vessel was carrying 58 tons of heavy fuel, 60 tons of marine gas oil, and 8 tons of lube oil.

Source: Associated Press

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