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Beaches cleaned after bulk carrier's oil spill

The Knysna municipality will start removing oiled sand from beaches affected by the Kiani Satu oil spill.

An oil spill after Kiani Satu ran aground in the Southern Cape. Picture: Ewald Stander

CAPE TOWN - Knysna's local municipality officials will start removing oiled sand from the stretch of beach between Buffels Bay and Sedgefield, where the Kiani Satu bulk carrier ran aground more than a week ago after it developed mechanical problems in heavy seas.

The German-owned vessel had 15,000 tons of rice on board, along with some 330 tons of heavy fuel oil.

South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) officials managed to refloat the rice carrier at the weekend after several tons of oil leaked from the vessel's hull.

The municipality's Athane Scholtz said a team of 60 people will start intensive clean-ups along a four kilometre section of beach.

"About 80 percent of what is in there would actually be sand put into special carriers and taken off to hazardous waste sites in Port Elizabeth and Cape Town."

She said Mother Nature is also doing her part in the clean-up.

"The sea hasn't been so wild and has really dissipated, for which we are very grateful. But the real impact of it will only been seen in weeks to come."

At least 37 oiled penguins were rescued after the oil spill but eight cormorants have since died.

Meanwhile, Samsa on Saturday said while the bulk carrier has been refloated, their work is far from over.

Samsa's Nigel Campbell said the next few days are critical.

"If she stays afloat and we don't break the tow rope, I think we'll be starting to relax. We're going to hold her now about 20 miles off the coast.

"When they fly in to salvage the ship we will go through the damage assessment and we will decide where to go to from there. We're towing with emergency towing gear that's already been in use for six days. It's not designed to last forever," said Campbell.

"We need a weather window to get the proper towing wires from the tug to the ship. As pleased as we are with progress, it's not over yet."

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