At approximately 02:30h on 10th September 2017, the chemical/product tanker AGIA ZONI II sank close to Atalanti Island, in the Piraeus anchorage area. The ultimate cause of the sinking is unknown. The vessel reportedly had 2,194 metric tons of heavy fuel oil and 370 metric tons of marine gas oil on board, an unknown quantity of which spilled into the sea. The incident has been classed as a large spill (>700 tonnes). Pollution damage was seen to the east coast of Salamina Island and coastal areas near the Port of Piraeus and Athens.
The owners of the AGIA ZONI II appointed a salvor to undertake oil removal and refloat the wreck; the salvors in turn appointed several sub-contractors to provide the anti-pollution clean-up service. In the immediate aftermath of the spill, 600 metres of floating boom was deployed around the sunken vessel to contain the oil. However, not all oil could be contained and heavy fuel oil patches, debris and oil sheen spread to contaminate various shores. Over time a decreasing amount of oil was recovered at sea as the oil started to break up into light sheen.
A dive survey on the morning of 12th September, showed that tank hatches and vent pipes were largely sealed. Small quantities of black oil were observed to be leaking in places, but this was in the form of small droplets, and understood to be significantly reduced from 11th September when large quantities of black oil were reportedly surfacing around the casualty. Hot tapping operations were then carried out to remove the oil remaining onboard. By 19th September, ~1,530 cubic metres of oil had been removed and pumped into a floating storage tanker and other vessels. Shoreline clean-up continued for several months, undertaken primarily by local clean-up contractors and local municipalities.
Greece is a signatory to 1992 Civil Liability and Fund Conventions and to the 2003 Supplementary Fund protocol. As AGIA ZONI II was carrying persistent oil in bulk as cargo at the time of sinking and following concerns that the cost of the response would most likely exceed the CLC limit, the IOPC Funds was notified of the incident. 423 claims totalling ~€100 million were submitted to the 1992 Fund.
Following notification by the casualty’s insurer, an ITOPF Technical Adviser arrived on site in Piraeus in the early hours of 12th September. Following an assessment of the scale and extent of the oil pollution, additional Technical Advisers arrived to site in support. ITOPF provided advice on a site-by-site basis for several months, providing recommendations regarding reasonable clean-up techniques, cost recovery and suitable end-points. ITOPF continues to work with the 1992 Fund to assess claims for compensation for clean-up and environmental monitoring.
Categories: Greece, Oil, Chemical Tanker, Product Tanker, Europe