Cleanup Underway After Oil Spill Impacts Antwerp’s Container Terminal

Antwerp oil spill
Operations around the container terminal in Antwerp are impacted by a bunkering oil spill (Port of Antwerp)

Published Jun 7, 2024 3:44 PM by The Maritime Executive


Port officials in Antwerp are saying that they expect it will take several days to fully complete a remediation effort after an oil spill that is encompassing the port’s Deurganck Dock, container operations, and Kieldrecht lock. About 20 ships, both inland and ocean-going, are reportedly impacted after a spill during a bunkering operation was detected late on Thursday afternoon, June 6.

“There is currently a selective ban on sailing to the Deurganck dock,” the Port of Antwerp-Brugges said in a statement on the situation. They emphasized that the terminals remain operational but that vessel traffic is being diverted with operations in the lock suspended to prevent the spread of the oil. “The other locks remain operational,” they said while confirming, “The situation is causing delays for some shipping.”

Port officials declined to name the source of the spill or speculate on the amount of oil that entered the water. A picture released by the port shows MSC vessels alongside, as well as one from Evergreen, and at least one bunker barge. 

After reports of the spill, the port suspended operations in the area and launched a survey and recovery effort. They have drones deployed to get a picture of the extent of the spill while cleanup boats are already operational. They said absorbent booms and oil screens were being deployed.

The survey showed that some of the vessels were “stained” and port officials said they would not be permitted to leave until they have been cleaned. Oil has been found in the shipping channel and on the quay walls. However, they said they had not seen any oil in the Scheldt River.

Remediation boats are “sweeping” the oil from the waterway. The quay walls are also being cleaned.

Antwerp is Europe’s second busiest port and the Duerganck is home to the single largest container terminal in Europe operated by PSA. Owned jointly by PSA and MSC’s TIL, the terminal had nine berths and over 12,000 feet of quay. It was relocated nearly a decade ago to this location and expanded to have an annual throughput capacity of 9 million TEU.