This is about the new oil bunkering facility in the Queens Channel around five miles north of Margate, my concerns here relate to the possibility of an oil spill off Margate.
Bunker oil is usually the term for some of the thickest and nastiest oil there is, it is the residual oil that remains after the oil distillation process that turns crude oil into, petrol diesel and lubricating oil.
It is used in ships boilers and is so viscous that it has to be heated up before it can be pumped.
As far as I can see this facility offers pretty much every sort of oil there is to vessels in the Dover Strait and Thames Estuary.
Operations there involve fuel bunker vessels being anchored in the Queens Channel and 1,000s of tons of oil being pumped between vessels.
Two tankers have been chartered for this operation, The Jamie with a load capacity of 5,775 tonnes and The Christine with a load capacity of 8,673 tonnes, these are supplied with fuel by barges from Rotterdam.
I have put the (old) press release on my press release blog at http://thanetpress.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-english-channel-bunkers-only.html
Information about contingency plans in the event of a spillage is a bit sparse at the moment, I can’t find details of any emergency standby vessel that would be used in an emergency spill.
In the case of an oil spillage, the facility will use the dedicated oil spill response capability in the Port of Ramsgate.
On the one hand I read about the toxic chemical spill in Hungry, the BP oil spill and part of me thinks something like this is unlikely to happen in Thanet.
On the other hand I find I am writing something like this, posting about bits of masonry hanging of cliffs or local flood risk, where no one actually seems to be aware of the high tide mark.
I suppose I am writing this post with a growing sense of incredulity, thinking that I must be missing or misunderstanding something here, thinking surely people in Margate must be aware of this, the council, local press, local environmentalists.
Perhaps it’s just me and this sort of risk is perfectly normal, perhaps these sort of operations are common close to tourist beaches with busy offshore shipping and a history of large and damaging storms.
I get the impression that refuelling ships in this way is more profitable than doing so in port where the environmental risks would be less, but I do wonder what the benefits to Thanet are, as it is the Thanet tourist economy that is being put at risk.
I will add to this one as I get time.