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Anchored vessels free of risk

Anchored vessels free of risk
The number of tankers anchored some 18 miles off Malta poses no greater pollution risk to the island than usual sea trade, local authorities have said.

The number of tankers anchored some 18 miles off Malta poses no greater pollution risk to the island than usual sea trade, local authorities have said.

The number of tankers anchored some 18 miles off Malta poses no greater pollution risk to the island than usual sea trade, local authorities have said.

Marine engineer Paul Cardona and the Malta Maritime Authority (MMA) told that anchored vessels did not pose a greater, or lesser risk than normal daily traffic.

Some 20 tankers are anchored at Hurd's Bank, just outside Malta's territorial waters, raising concerns about the effects a possible oil spill could have on marine life and the island's coast. The situation was described as "critical" by a leading physicist.

Last month, Aldo Drago, head of the University of Malta's Physical Oceanography Unit, said that even if the tankers were not close, they could still pose a great threat to the islands.

However, Cardona believed the fact the tankers were anchored in the area did not increase risks.

"There is a greater chance of two tankers colliding if they are on the move rather than if they are anchored," he told the newspaper, adding that, although numerous tankers passed in the vicinity of the island, there had never been an accident.

Similarly, a spokesman for the MMA said there was no increased risk: "All vessels, whether trading or at anchor, must be fully certified in accordance with international conventions, particularly those of the IMO".

Cardona pointed out that the majority of tankers had a double hull, providing increased protection against oil spills even in the case of accidents. "Risks exist in everything. But if they are certified tankers and manned by professional crews, the risk is not more than if they were sailing through the area," he reportedly said.

He also said engines on tankers were constantly on standby and, in the case of rough seas, they could leave within half an hour. "They can recover their anchor and maintain their position using their engines," he told the newspaper.

He explained that Hurd's Bank was the only place in the Central Mediterranean that was shallow enough for anchorage. "They are not drifting but securely anchored," he said.

However, he admitted that the risk of an oil spill would always remain because of Malta's geographical location: "What do we do in case of a major oil spill? We pray."

www.TurkishMaritime.com.tr

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