Fire-Damaged Product Tanker Towed to Port
The damaged product tanker Burgos, which suffered an explosion and fire off of Veracruz September 24, has been towed to the Pajaritos Maritime Terminal at Coatzacoalcos for offloading, according to operator Pemex.
In a statement, the state oil firm said that three tugs and one supply boat accompanied the Burgos on the tow trip to the terminal, where she will be thoroughly emptied and cleaned to ensure safety during subsequent work.
The cleaning and degassing process is expected to take about 10 days, after which a formal investigation into the cause of the accident can proceed, said Veracruz port authority director Juan Ignacio Fernandez Carvajal.
At the time of the explosion, the Burgos was carrying about 170,000 barrels of diesel and gasoline. The ship burned for 30 hours before firefighting vessels managed to extinguish the blaze. Much of the product in the affected holds was incinerated, but local fishermen reported a slick of several nautical miles in length two days after the incident, according to Mexico News Daily.
Pemex said that the surface film was composed of a mixture of firefighting foam and fuel, and Mexican government agencies are monitoring a nearby coral reef park to determine if there is any impact.
"We are concerned about the effect on the Parque Arrecifal Veracruzano from contamination by oil and the chemicals that extinguished the fire," said state attorney general for the environment Dalos Ulises Rodriguez Vargas. He said that his department would be involved in the response and would urge Pemex to do its best in cleanup efforts.
A local coordinator for activist organization Sea Shepherd Mexico, Sergio Armando Gonzalez Ramirez, said that a lack of transparency from Pemex suggested that the firm was not well prepared to handle emergency situations. He told local media that activists had taken water samples from the vicinity of the vessel and the reef park and had sent them to a private lab for analysis.
Image courtesy Sea Shepherd Mexico