Bahrain on environment alert after US sub collision
Manama, March 27, 2009
Bahrain is on alert against any environmental impact following a collision involving a nuclear submarine in the Strait of Hormuz, it has emerged.
The nuclear submarine USS Hartford collided with the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans last Friday morning.
The New Orleans suffered a ruptured fuel tank, resulting in an oil spill of approximately 25,000 gallons of diesel fuel, according to the US Navy. The propulsion plant of the submarine was unaffected by the collision, it said.
The USS Hartford docked at Mina Salman pier on Saturday, where US Navy engineers and inspection teams are assessing and evaluating the damage.
According to the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, 15 sailors aboard the Hartford were slightly injured but able to return to duty. No injuries were reported aboard the New Orleans. Both ships were operating under their own power.
Public Commission for the Protection of Fisheries, Environment and Wildlife Shaikh Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa issued orders for the officials concerned to follow up on the environmental impact the incident may have on Bahrain.
Based on initial findings, the type of oil leak resulting from the incident was light diesel at the scene of the collision at the Strait of Hormuz, said a spokesman.
He said that officials are monitoring the situation with the US Navy regional environment affairs co-ordinator and Mutual Emergency (Memac) and Bahrain port authorities after the vessels were transferred to Bahrain waters for maintenance work.
"We ensured containing the environmental impact from the oil leaks with the use of rubber booms," said the spokesman.
He said that the public commission requested the US Navy to be provided with samples from under the submarine to be analysed as soon as possible at one of the neutral labs in the region.
"The move aimed at establishing the level of the radioactive leak," said the spokesman.
He said that Bahrain authorities also requested an urgent report on procedures that ensure safeguarding marine environment and the health of the workers during maintenance work on the submarine in Bahrain.
"The public commission, in co-ordination with the Royal Navy, learnt that the submarine's fuel was not affected from the collision," said the spokesman.
"The US Navy regional environment affairs co-ordinator also assured us in an urgent reply that the submarine contains measuring and early dedication equipment to monitor any leak of nuclear fuel."
"We would like to assure all Bahrain residents that the situation is being closely monitored by the authorities concerned."-TradeArabia News Service