Fuel tanks breached on Transocean Winner

Two fuel tanks on the grounded drilling rig Transocean Winner have been breached, releasing diesel oil. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said the rig at Dalmore beach, Isle of Lewis, was carrying 280 metric tonnes of the oil.

Two of four tanks appear to have been damaged. The Scottish government said that it was “closely monitoring” the situation. However, the UK government has responsibility for managing incidents such as this.

The rig was being towed from Norway to Malta when bad weather on the evening of Sunday August 7th caused the tug towing it to get into difficulty. The tow line is reported to have broken early on Monday.

The apparent breaches in two of four fuel tanks were noted during an assessment made by a team from Smit Salvage and Transocean on Tuesday. It assessed three of the four tanks. Bad weather has prevented the team from returning to the rig.

A temporary exclusion zone of 300m remains in force.

Currently only emergency vehicles and local residents are allowed to use the Dalmore village road. It is a popular surfing and tourist venue during the summer months.

Scottish Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said : “Although the diesel is expected to rapidly disperse in the current sea conditions, the environment group, which is chaired by Marine Scotland, has put in place measures to swiftly identify any potential environmental impact on this precious and fragile marine habitat.

“This whole incident raises serious questions about why this rig was being towed through Scottish waters when such stormy conditions were forecast, and the deputy first minister has been in direct contact with the UK government about this very point.”