Pollution clean-up plan for Kea Trader altered

Subsequent to containership Kea Trader breaking in two in mid-November after striking the Durand Reef in the south Pacific on July 12th, the relevant authorities have amended their pollution control plan. Each section of the vessel is now being assessed separately.

The new pollution control plan has seen the salvage teams fully recover the unpumpable ballast water from cargo hold number two at the front part of the vessel. Skimming operations were being conducted on the starboard sides, while debris-cleaning in cargo hold number three was expected to be finished by the end of the week.

Salvage teams were also pumping out oily waters from the engine room in the rear part of the ship. A marine pollution alert was issued near the end of November after oil pellets washed ashore along some of the beaches of Lifou Island, New Caledonia, including Lifou, Ouvea and both Yate and Houailou. By December 1st globules had been collected on the beaches of Lifou in the Loyalty Islands and on the coast of five municipalities in New Caledonia. No definite link with Kea Trader has yet been confirmed. Samples l have been sent to a laboratory in Brittany, France to determine the origin of the pollution.

Fuel oil is thought to have leaked out of the vessel as there has been further movement of the split hull. Kea Trader split in two as salvors’ attempts to remove the final containers were thwarted by bad weather. The only recently-launched vessel was carrying 752 tonnes of heavy fuel oil and 756 containers when it struck the reef Ardent Global had been working for nearly five months unloading the damaged ship, but poor weather has halted these operations.

Shipowner, Lomar Shipping, has reportedly agreed to take over the clean-up operations under the authority of the New Caledonian government. Lomar said that “salvors continue to monitor the situation, with tugs remaining on site along with specialist anti-pollution contractors. Work to remove remaining containers has been on hold given poor weather and safety issues on site.”