Fuel spill in Ceuta

Livestock carrier Holstein Express (IMO 9004413) generated a fuel spill of about four tonnes of fuel early on January 10th in the Spanish North African port of Ceuta, affecting the Levante pier, the boathouse and the fishing port.

The Port Authority activated its anti-pollution protocol. Ecoceuta workers were called to remove the oil both from the dike and on the water. They dropped absorbent towels and removed those already soaked with fuel. Normal operations at the east dike, the Alfau dock and varadero were suspended.  A 150 metre-long anti-pollution barrier was laid out.

The accident occurred when the Holstein Express was bunkering fuel; one of the tanks overflowed. Reportedly the incident was a result of improper handling of the on-board valves during the supply operation. An investigation will determine if it was a negligence on the part of the crew, which ignored the amount of fuel that remained in the tank, or if it was a technical failure of the meter, which did not indicate the remaining fuel that was still inside the tank.

The Harbour Master of Ceuta, Jesús Fernández Lera, met with the inspectors of the Maritime Captaincy on January 11th, as well as with the lawyers of the captain of the Holstein Express, the shipowners and the club insurers and gave them the documentation, with the precautionary measures adopted after the discharge of approximately five tons of fuel oil while the vessel carried out the refuelling operations on the Alfau Dock.

Once the bail bonds have been paid, the ship would be given permission to leave port.

Fernández Lera confirmed that, in addition to the bail of €250,000 an economic sanction of €120,00 was imposed on the vessel for the expenses generated by the cleaning work of the entire area of the dock affected by the spill of the fuel oil. A total of €370,000 euros was expected to be deposited on January 13th.

The oil removal was reported to be moving at a good pace. Once the hull cleaning was completed the Holstein Express changed berth to allow cleaning of the surrounding area. The Alfau quay was expected to resume its activity on January 13th.

The spill was reportedly caused by a human failure as the safety management system of the ship was not fulfilled during the refuelling work, so that an overflow of one of the fuel tanks occurred.

1991-built, Luxembourg-flagged, 7,896 gt Holstein Express is owned by Livestock Carrier 2 BV care of manager Livestock Express BV of NJ Breada, Netherlands. It is entered with North of England Club on behalf of Livestock Carrier 2 BV.