STATUS JOC GOUKAMMA NATURE RESERVE 15 AUGUST 2013
The situation at the Buffalo Bay/Goukamma Joint Operations Centre (JOC) remains more or less the same as yesterday.
Efforts continue to tug the rice cargo ship Kianu Satu out to sea, while the land-based JOC is preparing for extensive clean-up operations once the ship has been removed.
Clean-up of some sections of the Goukamma Estuary has commenced. Other areas will follow in due course. 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.
Knysna Municipal Manager Lauren Waring reiterated her previous comment: “We express our immense gratitude and amazement at the skills, expertise and commitment of local, national and international people who have flown and driven in to manage this situation. While we are painfully aware of the potential impacts that this incident may hold now and in the future, we know that we are in good hands and that everything is being done to minimise damage.”
While Goukamma Nature Reserve and Marine Protected Area remains the most affected by pollution, precautionary measures are in place at the Swartvlei River Mouth in Sedgefield and the Knysna Estaury. There is no current oil threat to the latter two estuaries.
JOC Incident coordinator Richard Meyer said helicopter reports last night reported 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. A base camp for these purposes is currently being set up. Under the current circumstances the clean-up operations are expected to take several weeks, depending on the amount of oil remaining on the beach.
“In the meantime, local Working on Fire and CoastCare personnel is being trained in the correct and safe oil cleaning procedures. A rapid response team is already in place and have been dealing with ad hoc spills.”
Mr Meyer said the more than 350 people from some 20 organisations and stakeholders continued to work well together to address the many issues caused by the oil spill.
“At Swartvlei attempts are being made to close the river mouth by the laying of sandbags and sand-moving equipment. Additional equipment has been moved there to assist.
“While there is no current threat to the Knysna Estuary, oil collecting booms are in place and can be pulled across targeted sections of the estuary should it become necessary. Booms are covering all channels and culverts that may be at risk.
“At Goukamma a clean-up base camp is being set up and full scale clean-ups will get underway as soon as the vessel has been moved to around 10 nautical miles from the coast. The Goukamma River was closed by sandbags and sand moving equipment last night and the oil catching boom is in place,” said Mr Meyer.
A sea bird and animal rescue team is in place. So far, 25 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. Contact numbers are provided below in this regard. No bird or animal mortalities have so far been reported in vicinity of the ship. The conservation partners distributed flyers in the surrounding area advising people what to do if they find an oiled bird and the numbers to phone.
It should be noted that oiled gannets have been recorded at Bird Island near Port Elizabeth, but that these are not necessarily related to the Goukamma spill. A scientist will fly to Bird Island today to take samples of the oiled birds to determine its origins. It has been known that entities use an opportunity such as a grounded ship to dump other oil. If the oiled birds at Bird Island are indeed contaminated by the Goukamma incident, full responsibility for their clean-up will be taken by the ship’s insurers.
Western Cape Minister of Economic development and Tourism Mr Alan Winde is visiting the site today.
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) and several specialised service providers.
Please note: Please note the information in this press release comprises the information ON LAND. All matters on sea are commented on by SAMSA spokesman Nigel Campbell at 083 309 6053.
Oil affected birds – 082 326 4143 or 072 670 5108 or 083 454 2284
Oil affected seals – 082 665 3770
Incidents can also be reported to 044 805 5071 (JOC Report Centre)
Ms Athane Scholtz
JOC – Goukamma (Knysna Municipality)
Cell phone: +27 (0)83 441 0331
Ms Marietjie Engelbrecht
JOC – Goukamma (CapeNature)
Cell phone: +27 (0)82 814 3559