Monday, 11 March 2013

Seli 1 wreck reduction attempt set to take place next week

A wreck reduction process in respect of the stranded Seli 1 vessel is, subject to favourable weather conditions, set to commence during the week of 11 March 2013.

The South African Navy, who have recently carried out an investigation and survey of the wreck, have been enlisted by The Department of Transport to undertake the operation. Assistance in the form of resources and manpower will also be provided by the City of Cape Town, the South African Maritime Safety Authority and the Department of Environmental Affairs.

The wreck reduction, planned and undertaken through a multi-agency Task Team, is intended to strategically weaken the wreck structure and, with the help of the ocean forces, collapse it onto the seabed.

Remedial and protective measures are being put in place by the Joint Task Team to manage and mitigate the release of any oils or pollutants, and the impact of this on the coastline and marine life. All risks with regards to oil pollution and the sensitive marine environment have been considered. Standby teams to respond to any oil pollution or oiling of seabirds will be in place, and SANCCOB and the Animal Demography Unit at the University of Cape Town have been engaged as part of the process.

The complete collapsing of the wreck in this manner and the release of remaining pollutants under controlled conditions will likely remove all remaining negative impacts of the Seli 1 on our coastline. Subsequent to the operation, however, an assessment will be undertaken to determine if any further work is required.

On 7 September 2009 the Seli 1 experienced engine problems and sought refuge in Table Bay. A snapped anchor chain compounded with reduced engine power and stormy weather conditions culminated in the vessel grounding off the Table View Beach shortly before midnight.

Since the stranding, the vessel has posed several risks as evident from the oil slicks experienced, the contamination of marine life and the pollution of the shoreline. The presence of the vessel has also resulted in the altering of the Table Bay coastline by means of accretion and erosion. The vessel also poses a risk to recreational beach users, especially kite surfers.

The Joint Task Team is pleased that the South African Navy will commence the wreck reduction process before the 2013 winter.

“It is extremely significant that this process will be commencing before the winter period, which in all likelihood would result in further breakup of the vessel, increased oil spills and oil contamination. In addition, the sea conditions during winter are such that the operation would not be viable,” said Alderman JP Smith, Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security.

The public are required to adhere to the following safety measures as from 11 March 2013 until further advised:

· The entire beach and dune area opposite the wreck will be closed to the public and demarcated parking areas will also be off-limits;

· Recreational activities are not permitted;

· An area of approximately 1000m surrounding the wreck will be off-limits to all vessels and water users during the operation. Active policing of the off-limits area will be in force by various law enforcement agencies; and

· The airspace surrounding the wreck is prohibited and no aircraft are allowed to operate.

Updates on the wreck reduction will be issued and the public will be informed as to when the area is re-opened for recreation.

The City is endeavouring to ensure that the impact to residents is minimised. The cooperation and assistance of the public will be greatly appreciated.


Issued by: Integrated Strategic Communication and Branding Department, City of Cape Town

For Operational enquiries: Wilfred Solomons-Johannes, Head: Systems Integration, Special Projects & Disaster Operations, Disaster Risk Management Centre, City of Cape Town

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