Oil leaking from the bulk carrier Kiani Satu, which ran aground in heavy weather on Thursday has forced South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs, in collaboration with local municipalities, to spring into action, stringing out oil booms to protect the nearby estuaries and beaches.

Salvors told the South African Broadcasting Corporation that “about three tonnes of oil have so far leaked” from the vessel, and that salvors are currently in the process of transferring the fuel oil from the leaking tank to another tank on the vessel.

Other reports are now saying the spill could be closer to 10 tons.

Reports from the Department of Environmental Affairs’ oil spill aerial surveillance aircraft, Kuswag 9 (K9), “indicate that while light oil is visible on the beaches, most of the oil leaking from bulk carrier, is moving offshore away from the coast. The K9 is currently stationed in George and is providing aerial monitoring twice daily.”

The below image just posted by @rachelemexicali seems to contradict the Department’s statement however.

With a cold front expected in the next week, the salvage experts and local authorities are in a race against time to pull the Kiani Satu, carrying 330 tons of heavy fuel oil and 15,000 tons of rice, from the surf zone.

Captain Nigel Campbell, a 40-year maritime industry veteran, is overseeing the salvage operation on behalf of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

“We are doing our best to limit any further damage and are preparing a flotation operation on Monday to take the vessel back out to sea,” notes Campell in a report by IOL News.

We have reached out to SAMSA for further comment, but were unable to reach anyone after hours.

Cover image by Alix Carmichele, see more of her work here

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