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Fuel from ship John Miller spills into sea 05 Agosto 2014

What everyone involved had feared has, unfortunately, happened. The ship John Miller began spilling a portion of the fuel in its tanks into the sea. The vessel, which ran aground and sank on Sunday, was also transporting between ten and fifteen metric tons of fuel for ENACOL to supply the gas stations and airport on the island of Boa Vista.

Fuel from ship John Miller spills into sea

The containers carrying the petroleum products destined for fuel distribution company ENACOL are, according to the company’s general director, Carlitos Fortes, very well protected, however. A group of specialists has made its way to Boa Vista in an effort to recover the cargo on the John Miller, which has been floating on the surface of the water near the shipwreck since yesterday.

Despite the assurances from ENACOL, biologists are concerned about the safety of the fuel containers. According to biologist Kátia Ramos, quick intervention is needed on the part of environmental authorities in order to prevent more gasoline from spilling into the sea. Otherwise, the resulting environmental damage will be enormous.

Ramos explains that each liter of oil could pollute as much as a million liters of water, and warns that it is impossible to separate an oil molecule from water. What’s more, the spilt oil will not remain condensed, but rather will spread over a vast area. The leakage of oil into the sea will also jeopardize the local fishing sector, as it could cause the death of fish, while those that do survive will be unfit for human consumption.

Nevertheless, Cape Verde’s Maritime and Port Institute today downplayed the risk of marine pollution. “There won’t be any environmental impact, as any possible spill, if there is any risk, will be very isolated, in the part of the water near the islet, where no one goes swimming anyhow. But at the moment everything is under control.” For its part, meanwhile, ENACOL, the owner of the John Miller, assured that no human or environmental loss had resulted from the accident, despite the 60 metric tons of fuel on board the ship.

The John Miller, which ran aground while entering Sal Rei port on the island of Boa Vista, where it was to unload fuel, ended up partially sinking, with only a part of the deck now visible above the water. The accident took place as the vessel was maneuvering to dock at the port and ran into an outcrop of rocks, puncturing its hull. No one was injured in the accident.

The ship was transporting two containers of gasoline and another two containers with canisters of butane gas to supply the market on the island of Boa Vista. In the wake of the shipwreck, a number of locals took the opportunity to make their way to the scene in rowboats and steal canisters of the cooking gas. Police have since been called to the scene to prevent the theft of additional canisters. One of the containers has been towed to the port, while work continues in an attempt to salvage the remaining cargo.

A group of specialists from ENACOL parent company Galp Energia has arrived on a private jet from Portugal to assist in the cargo recovery work.

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