x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Divers stop diesel leaks on sunken White Whale

The supply ship, which sank off the coast of Umm Al Qaiwain on October 22, is lying at a depth of 30 metres.

UMM AL QAIWAIN // Divers have stopped diesel fuel leaking from the supply ship that sank 16 kilometres off the coast last month, and are preparing to recover the vessel.

Fuel had been leaking from the engine room of the White Whale, which is lying at a depth of 30 metres.

Dr Maryam Al Shenasi, the undersecretary of the Ministry of Environment and Water, confirmed yesterday that the leak had been plugged.

"The work team has therefore successfully achieved the first and second phases of their work," she added. "The sunken ship will be retrieved during the third phase. The ministry and relevant authorities are closely monitoring the situation."

The first phase involved carrying out a survey and evaluating the condition of the wreck, while the second phase was the operation to halt the leaks.

The 43-metre-long White Whale sank on October 22 while delivering materials to other vessels and oil rigs. Police said the vessel was carrying 1,000 tonnes of diesel rather than the 450 tonnes that had been declared. Nine crew members were arrested.

"The ministry has referred the case to the attorney general's office, which will follow up on it with the owners of the ship in relation to their environmental responsibilities," added Dr Al Shenasi.

"Federal law number 24 of 1999, pertaining to the protection of the environment, bans all maritime vessels, whatever their nationality and whether they are registered in the UAE or not, from releasing any oil or oil mixtures into the maritime environment."