Coal to be dumped to help salvage

2013-09-16 00:00

EFFORTS to move the coal off the stricken MV Smart were hampered by bad weather last week, but the salvaging operation is set to continue this week.

The bulk carrier ran aground shortly after leaving the Port of Richards Bay last month.

Last week, the national Department of Environmental Affairs gave permission to dump some of the vessel’s cargo, or 10 000 tons of coal, into the ocean to make moving the wreck easier. The vessel has split in half.

About 50 000 tons of coal spilt into the ocean soon after the vessel ran aground, a statement said.

There are important estuaries such as the uMfolozi, uMlalazi and the uMlathuze Sanctuary near the area where the vessel ran aground.

The Department of Environmental Affairs said it was not a diversity hot spot, because the area was dredged annually.

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a key environmental area and World Heritage Site, is just 70 km from where the ship is.

iSimangaliso Wetland Park CEO Andrew Zaloumis said they would monitor the coal-dumping process once it began.

“iSimangaliso has been monitoring salvage operations and will continue to do so, but placement of that coal right next to the ship doesn’t pose any direct effect to iSimangaliso,” he said.

Earthlife Africa spokesperson for Durban Vanessa Black said they had not been monitoring the salvaging operation closely, but there was a view among authorities that the area where the vessel ran aground was already environmentally degraded.

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