Sweden: Leaking RoRo wreck to be emptied of oil

Finnbirch, a Swedish shipwreck that sunk in the Baltic Sea in 2006, will be completely emptied of oil, the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management (SwAM) said. 

The oil recovery operations are scheduled to start on October 17, 2019.

Located some 12 nautical miles east the Swedish island Öland, the wreck has started to leak oil from a bunker tank at the end of 2018. The bunker tank still contains 85 cubic meters of diesel, according to the agency.

Frida Åberg, Analyst Marine Management at SwAM, said that the wreck is still leaking oil and that the Swedish Coast Guard is keeping the oil under control, while SwaM, with the support of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, is preparing to remove the remaining fuel.

As informed, there is a number of sensitive natural areas in the vicinity of the shipwreck. The cleanup operation, estimated at SEK 11.5 million (about USD 1.2 million), is therefore done as part of the Baltic Sea protection.

Back in November 2006, the 1978-built Finnbirch, previously named Stena Prosper, sank in international waters between Öland and Gotland. At the time of the incident, the roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) vessel had fourteen crewmembers onboard. The ship sank in a heavy storm which also set an oil rig adrift. One crew member was drawn down with the ship and drowned, another succumbed to hypothermia. The other crewmen were rescued by helicopter after they jumped into the sea once the ship had capsized.

There are about 17,000 shipwrecks along the coasts of Sweden of which 3,000 were classified by the Swedish Maritime Administration as “possibly hazardous for the environment”, 300 as  “hazardous for the environment” and 30 of them as an “acute environmental threat.”

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