A Turkish freighter, apparently 'banned' from European waters, plies its trade off Africa's coast - then sinks causing untold environmental damage to the sea

Gulser Ana, Vessel grounded Madagascar

The Gulser Ana, a Turkish freighter, ran aground off the southern tip of Madagascar and as a result thousands of tonnes of Phosphates, Heavy diesel fuel and oils have poured into the surrounding ocean causing serious damage to the environment.

Local inhabitants nearby have been reportedly suffering respiratory problems and at least nine humpback whales have been found dead. It would be unknown whether any other whales have died as a result – these are those found washed up onshore.

Dumped into the sea.........

Initial reports stated the cargo of the Turkish freighter to be:

39,000 tons of raw phosphates, 586 tons of fuel and 66 tons of diesel, all of which are reported to have been emptied into the sea.

Later reports from the Madagascar’s Prime Minister, Monia Roindefo, office say the loads were far higher. The statement said the Turkish freighter was carrying 500000 cubic metres of diesel and 700000 litres of motor oil, as well as an unspecified quantity of heavy fuel.

It was not clear how much fuel has already seeped into the water. The newspaper L’Express reported that around 400 cubic metres had leaked and that a stretch of the coastline had been blackened by the pollution.

The accident has happened at the same time as the Humpback Whales mating season causing maximum damage to the animals at a crucial time.

Numbers of people affected are reported to be around 20,000, the toxicity of the water has required fishing to be banned and the cleanup efforts are said to be wholly inadequate with the equipment being used unsuitable for the job. Workers are without protective equipment either.

As the saga continues it has been revealed this vessel is on a blacklist of vessels banned from European waters.

Several reports such as those below indicate the Turkish freighters owners, Mardeniz Denizcilik, were indeed negligent and safety issues have resulted in the ship being detained in several European ports during the past few years.

In 2001 the Gulser Ana was detained on account of safety violations observed during an inspection on a visit to Belfast harbor.. The inspectors wrote in their report "Fuel oil emergency quick closing devices not operational" and "Fire hoses not operationally ready." Shortly after, four crewmen were injured in an accident involving the lifeboat. At the time of the violation, the ship was apparently owned by T&R Shipping and Trading. Captain Bill Bennett who detained the vessel commented: "This is the third time that Gulser Ana has been detained in ten months. The deficiencies are serious and if this vessel had been allowed to sail there could have been serious implications for both the crew and the vessel." A photo published in the official UK report depicts the accident involving the lifeboat.

The operator of the Turkish freighter GULSER ANA which went aground off the coast of Madagascar (see our news report yesterday) has denied that any whales have been harmed through coming into contact with leaking fuel oil. This follows unofficial local reports that the ship had been banned from EU waters because of a poor port state control record, having been detained there several times.


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