17 May 2006

The Web
Business Today

Oil spill threatened port activity

Karl Schembri

Up to 15 tonnes of oil dumped illegally in Grand Harbour last Wednesday threatened port activity as the oil spill stretched in various parts of the port, at one point stopping not further than 20 metres away from Roman Abramovich’s Lm45 million super yacht Pelorus.
According to the head of the Oil Pollution Response Module, Tony Mallia, the oil spill spread from Marsa to a great part of Grand Harbour, with initial amounts of the cost of cleaning efforts estimated to be Lm4,000.
Luckily the powerboats brought over from abroad for the Malta Grand Prix of the Powerboat World Championship were still ashore at the time of the oil spill.
While admitting it was hard to identify the perpetrators, Mallia said he hoped that with the help of the Maritime Authority, the Civil Protection Department, police investigators and the public who reported any information relevant to the case, the people dumping the oil illegally would be caught.
The Oil Pollution Response Module coordinated efforts to contain the oil spill through special equipment meant to absorb the oil. It is suspected that the oil was discharged through a manhole in Marsa or Hamrun. Mallia said this was not the first time that such quantities were dumped illegally in rain culverts or sewage manholes, probably from bowsers. In February last year, OPRM cleaned up 40 tonnes of oil dumped in this manner in one incident.
“Whoever did it has no idea of the extent of the damage he’s inflicting,” Mallia said.

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