Council leader ‘terrified’ of oil spill from Hoegh Osaka

The car carrier Hoegh Osaka near  Lee-on-the-Solent last night. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
The car carrier Hoegh Osaka near Lee-on-the-Solent last night. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
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CONCERNS have been raised about a potential oil spill from Hoegh Osaka ruining a nature reserve.

Fareham’s council leader and executive member for environment at Hampshire County Council Sean Woodward said councils are ‘terrified’ at the thought of an oil spill.

He expressed the fears as the cargo vessel was towed from Bramble Bank, where it has been since Saturday, to waters two miles off Lee-on-the-Solent, Gosport and Hill Head, last night.

But Maggie Hill, a spokeswoman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said there was no evidence that an oil spill would happen.

Cllr Woodward said: ‘We are absolutely terrified of the thought of an oil spill. We had an oil spill on the Meon Shore a few years ago and it was awful.

‘The boat is going to be moored at Hill Head and it is still on its side and we know it is leaking.

‘I am having emergency meetings as we have to think about our contingency plan.

‘We have a nature reserve of international importance, the Titchfield Haven, very close by.

‘I am very worried in case we get something of an environmental disaster. It is an unplanned move of that ship. The last thing we want is 500 tonnes of unwanted oil.’

Last night the Maritime and Coastguard agency announced that the ship would be anchored two miles south-west of Lee-on-the-Solent, before more checks this morning.

Ms Hill said: ‘The decision was made to keep the vessel near Lee-on-the-Solent over night.

‘A full assessment will be made this morning.’

She added there was no evidence of any oil spill.

‘We have no concerns about any spill and a team of multi-agency environmentalists have been working with the salvage group and giving them advice.

‘We do have a pollution team on stand-by to react immediately but there is no evidence of a spill.

‘It is now Thursday and the ship has been in the Solent since Wednesday and no oil has leaked out.

‘But we do take the dangers of one very seriously and that is why we have the environmentalists advising the salvors.’

Councillor Woodward added talks are also being made with police to manage the roads if people head to the coast to get a glimpse of the stricken ship.

‘It is causing quite a test and becoming an attraction,’ he said.

‘We are talking to the police about how to manage the roads and the volumes of people coming down to the area.’

Vessel moved into Portsmouth Harbour waters

CARGO vessel Hoegh Osaka left Southampton on Saturday carrying more than 1,400 cars and construction equipment.

Just hours after setting off, the ship had to be deliberately grounded by crew in Bramble Bank, off the Isle of Wight.

The coastguard was called in and 25 crew members were rescued from the ship on Saturday night.

The 51,000-tonne vessel was left stranded in the Solent until Tuesday morning when high tides saw it afloat.

But due to water leaks caused by displaced cargo, an attempt to refloat the ship was abandoned late on Tuesday night.

Yesterday morning, high tides forced salvers Svitzer to tow the boat after it again became afloat. It was towed into waters under the jurisdiction of Portsmouth Harbour and left to rest two miles south-west of Lee-on-the-Solent.