Grande America: setting up dams

Floating dams were set up for the first time Monday in the Great America sinking area of ​​the Bay of Biscay, thanks to improved weather conditions, the Atlantic Maritime Prefecture announced.

“Pollution control operations continued, with the installation of dams and trawls,” reads a statement.

“From today we really start to have weather conditions that allow the launching of equipment.The trawls had already been launched, the dams floating is the first time”, has explained to AFP the spokesman of the Maritime Prefecture Riaz Akhoune.

Several vessels carry out control operations in the area, including Argonaute and Sapper chartered by the Navy, but also the Partisan and Ria de Vigo chartered by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) or the Spanish tug Alonso de Chaves. A second Spanish tug, Maria de Maetzu, is expected Tuesday in the area.

A flight of aerial observations was made during the day by an aircraft of the Spanish governmental agency in charge of the maritime safeguard (Sasemar).

At the vertical of the wreck, which sank on March 12 by 4,600 meters of bottom after a violent fire, “a surface iridescence dotted with piles of heavy fuel oil is visible”, indicates the maritime prefecture, adding that the initial pollution issued by the Italian ship during its sinking “drift”, without specifying the direction. This pollution is “consisting of heaps of heavy fuel oil scattered on the surface,” says the same source.

In addition, “the maritime authorities remain vigilant with regard to possible illegal discharges of hydrocarbons by opportunistic polluting ships,” she says.

The tug Union Lynx, chartered by the shipowner, the company Grimaldi, proceeded to “tow a container of non-hazardous material to the port of La Rochelle”. He should then attempt to recover one of the two Great America survival craft, located drifting about 55 km west of the coast.

The Metropolitan Support and Assistance Building (BSAM) the Rhône tows a floating dam 300 km off La Rochelle, March 18, 2019 (AFP - Fred TANNEAU)

The Metropolitan Support and Assistance Building (BSAM) the Rhône tows a floating dam 300 km off La Rochelle, March 18, 2019 (AFP – Fred TANNEAU)

The Italian ship, from Hamburg to Casablanca, sank 333 km west of La Rochelle with on board 365 containers, including 45 listed as containing hazardous materials, more than 2,000 vehicles, and 2,200 tons of heavy fuel oil. in his bunkers. Its 27 occupants were rescued and brought back to Brest, where an accidental pollution investigation was opened.

The NGO Robin des Bois requests that the ships of the company Grimaldi Lines (the shipowner of the Great America) stopover or expected in Le Havre in the coming days “are subject to urgent detailed inspections”.

These checks must be carried out “in the field of fire-fighting devices, on-board distribution of dangerous substances on board and the safety of hundreds of used vehicles waiting to be boarded,” she said on Monday. a statement.

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