Ninety percent of the cleanup operation to remove an oil slick from the Gulf of Aqaba is likely to be completed by late Wednesday, a Ports Corporation of Aqaba senior official said on Tuesday.
"The cleanup process will be [mostly completed] tomorrow, however, we will be ready to deal with any oil that may crop up," Abdullah Abu Aleim, Ports Corporation director general, told the Jordan Times.
He said the corporation is fully equipped to deal with such an oil-spill, and that they would remain on the lookout for possible residue.
The saga of the oil-spill began on Saturday evening around 5:00pm when the Marine Inspection Department reported to the Prince Hamzah Centre for Combating Marine Pollution that an extensive oil slick had been sighted along the Aqaba coast, a port source said earlier.
Both centers function under the umbrella of the Ports Corporation of Aqaba.
A fuel tanker skidded off the road and into the Red Sea in Aqaba causing the slick, which affected about 10 kilometers of coastline, the same source said, whereas initially it was reported to have affected 15 kilometers.
The heavy fuel truck dived into the water when the driver lost control of the vehicle.
“However, it is not accurate to measure the spill in kilometers as it was scattered and not concentrated in one place,” said Abu Aleim, adding that “this is a natural situation in the sea [that the oil would be broken up by waves], but we have managed to contain it in one place.”
“In other words, you may find a [patch of oil] floating across a 200-meter [area], and after around 100-150 meters, you may face another one,” Abu Oliem explained.
The specialists succeeded late Monday in containing the spill which had broken up in the sea.
“The sea waves and winds had been posing a challenge to specialists' and workers' efforts,” said Ibrahim, a marine pollution control technician in the Ports Corporation.
“On Tuesday, specialists in marine pollution control finished soaking up the oil in the sea with special instruments,” he added.
The pollution control team will start cleaning up the coastline and rocks affected by the incident on Wednesday. “We may work up to Friday to clean up the coasts as the process will not be easy,” Ibrahim said.
Another technician, Ahmad, said the marine pollution control staff has been divided into small groups, each one consisting of 6-7 workers.
The heavy fuel truck bore an Iraqi license plate and its driver is an Iraqi national, said an informed port source, adding that the truck's load was around "20-25 tones of heavy fuel." One of the driver's legs was broken in the accident.
“Evaluation of losses will be evaluated after the cleanup process is 100 percent over,” said the Ports Corporation director general.
The recovery of each oil patch has been dealt with in the most suitable manner, Abu Aleim said, reiterating that the Ports Corporation will not leave a single drop.
By Khalid Dalal
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)