Belfast Telegraph

Oil to be taken off damaged tanker

Work is getting under way to take thousands of tonnes of oil off a damaged tanker at Belfast Lough.

After delays due to bad weather, the transfer of 54,304 tonnes of Vacuum Gas Oil from the Genmar Companion is expected to take between 24 and 36 hours.

The operation was launched after a crack was spotted on the ship's upper deck.

Tugs are helping to bring it alongside the tanker BW Seine to offload the cargo.

The task should have started on Monday, but was hit by delays due to the stormy weather conditions.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: "For the duration of the operation there will be a one-mile exclusion zone around the Genmar Companion and BW Seine to give the tugs a safe working area.

"The cargo is transferred from one to the other using specialist equipment. The operation to berth, make lines secure and conduct final checks will take several hours before the actual transfer of the oil begins."

The Genmar Companion has been sheltering off the Copeland Islands at the entrance to Belfast Lough since December 16.

It was 40 miles west of Tory Island, Co Donegal, on its journey from Rotterdam to New York, when the crack on its upper deck was reported.

Officials said the crack did not appear to extend to any of the oil cargo holding structures but took action as a precautionary measure.

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