Icelandic Eimskip container vessel Godafoss, which ran aground in the Oslo fjord in southeast Norway last week, has been towed away from the grounding location. The damages were evaluated yesterday. Preliminary evaluation shows that they are less significant than feared. The oil spill was also not as severe as originally assumed.
An Eimskip container vessel. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
Eimskip’s PR officer Ólafur William Hand told Morgunbladid that there wasn’t much oil leaking from Godafoss when it was moved and the thin trail of oil that extended from the ship was cleaned up immediately.
Divers who evaluated the damages on the ship’s underside couldn’t see any extensive damage. It is being determined whether holes can be patched in the ship’s current location, between the skerry Kirkeskjaer and the islet Styre, which would make transport much easier.
The Norwegian Maritime Directorate monitored yesterday’s operations from the air and sea and Swedish oil cleaning ships were on the alert. “As far as we could tell the operation went according to schedule and pollution was minimal,” said project manager Johan Marius Ly at the Norwegian Maritime Directorate.
At mid-day yesterday more than 100 cubic meters of oil-polluted seawater had been cleaned. It is estimated that 30 percent thereof is pure water. Patrols from the air indicate that there are some smaller slicks of oil near the grounding location where the fjord’s frozen surface makes cleaning difficult; in some cases oil flows underneath the ice.
Tests to evaluate the extent of the pollution are being conducted off Sandefjord and Larvik to the west of the opening to the Oslo fjord; the oil has been flowing in that direction.
The weather conditions were favorable last week and so the coastline and islands next to the grounding location were not as severely impacted by the oil spill as originally feared.
Eivind Borge, chairman of the Hvaler municipality, which encompasses 830 islands, islets and skerries that are popular among summer vacationers, said some dead birds have been found but he assumed that in a few weeks traces of the accident will be next to nothing.
“I hope the captain is doing all right. I don’t know how he feels right now but he’s only human,” commented Borge. “It must be a terrible feeling.”
The oceanic national park Ytre Hvaler also belongs to the municipality. The biosphere there is unique as it is home to rare plant and animal species.
“We have had people out in the oceanic national park and along the coastlines evaluating the situation and looking for dead birds,” said the park’s senior supervisor, Bernt Erik Larsen, adding that he and his employees are relieved that Godafoss has been moved.
Larsen explained the frozen fjord makes cleaning and monitoring difficult. The oil that flowed underneath the ice and the oil that can be spotted in cracks cannot be cleaned until the ice has melted, he said, and the long-term effects cannot be estimated until after cleaning is completed.
The ship was carrying 800 tons of oil when it ran aground, so the accident could have had serious consequences for the environment.
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