Four kilometres of Algoa Bay coastline cleaned up after oil spill

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African Penguins.
African Penguins.
Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images
  • Four kilometres of the Algoa Bay coastline has been cleaned after an oil spill.
  • The 80-litre oil spill was caused by a Croatian vessel.
  • The owner of the vessel is liable for the clean-up costs.

Two weeks after an 80-litre oil spill on the coast of Algoa Bay, about four kilometres of the coastline has been cleaned up.

In a statement, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) said it still had to clean an additional four kilometre stretch of coastline between Hougham Park and Sundays River.

The oil spill happened on 17 November when a Croatian-flagged vessel MV Solin took bunkers offshore from the bunker tanker Sea Express at the Algoa Bay anchorage number 1.

The vessel was released from detention and was permitted to sail after an Admission of Contravention and the detention fee was paid by the vessel owner, Samsa spokesperson Tebogo Ramatjie said.

The owner of the vessel is footing the bill for all clean-up costs related to the oil spill. 

Ramatjie said the authority would continue to monitor the remaining stretch of beach for any tarballs or oiled wildlife.

Shortly after the oil spill, the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (Sanccob) said it was worried that it could have a devastating effect on bird species at the nearby St Croix Island. Last week, Sanccob said four birds – three Cape gannets and an African penguin – were found to have been contaminated by oil and had been captured.

The African penguin population census carried out in 2021 by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment found that there were only around 1 500 African penguin breeding pairs, compared to 3 638 breeding pairs during the previous census in 2019.

The Algoa Bay spill is the second incident of this nature in November by a foreign vessel. In St Helena Bay, the NS Qingdao was discharging at the port when its chemical cargo was apparently soaked by rain, causing it to be unstable and release toxic fumes into the atmosphere. The vessel was towed out to sea to ventilate its hatches offshore. The vessel is registered in the Marshall Islands.

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