Anti-pollution tug spills tons of diesel

A tug boat designed to protect the Scottish coast in the case of environmental disasters has run aground, spilling some 200 tons of diesel.

The Coastguard’s emergency towing vessel Anglian Sovereign broadcast a mayday shortly before 10pm on Saturday, September 3 after ploughing into the island of Oxna, ten miles west of Scalloway, Shetland.

A helicopter and lifeboat were scrambled to evacuate non-essential crew from the boat which then managed to limp back to Scalloway harbour in strong winds.

After the accident Sandy Wylie, watch manager, Shetland Coastguard said: “The vessel has now managed to refloat and is heading to Scalloway under its own power with a fifteen degree list.

“It is being escorted by the survey vessel Triton. Crew are going to meet the vessel at Scalloway to assist as necessary.

“The master of the vessel has done an excellent job in salvaging the vessel and bringing it into Scalloway.”

The skipper was nevertheless breathalysed and arrested following the incident.

The Counter Pollution Branch immediately sent staff and equipment to Scalloway to deal with this fuel spill.

The vessel was surrounded by booms to stop the spread of the diesel and pumps were installed to remove the slick.

Environmental health officers confirmed that the clearance carried out in the harbour had been effective but there were still sheens which extended beyond the harbour boundaries.

Local fish farmers with caged fish near the site of the spill have been examining their stocks to see if they have become contaminated.

Meanwhile the authorities have advised local shellfish and fish farmers as well as inshore shellfish fishermen in the Scalloway area, not to fish, harvest or feed in areas of obvious oil pollution.

Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesman Fred Caygill said: “The Marine Accident Investigation Branch is launching an investigation to find out what happened.

“It is too early to speculate if the weather conditions contributed to the vessel running aground, but the main thing is everyone’s safe.”

By Sam Bond

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