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Jan 27, 2005

Diesel fuel removed from stranded ship

Story PictureThe cargo vessel that went aground on the windward side of Lighthouse Reef several weeks ago has become less of a threat to the environment. Yesterday the two hundred and twenty-five foot freighter “Transfer” had all her diesel fuel removed–over eleven thousand gallons–and today the bilges are being cleaned in preparation for salvage operations. According to Major Gilbert Swazo of the Port Authority, the owners contracted a ship from Campeche–the Seacor Hawk–to take on the Tranfer’s fuel. The operation, under the direction of 3-D Marine of Belize City, was initially hampered by bad weather but was eventually completed successfully, with some of the diesel placed in a storage tank at Northern Two Cayes. News 5 understands that bids have been solicited for salvaging the stranded ship and by next week the successful tenderer is expected to attempt to remove the Transfer from its perch atop the coral. According to Swazo, a preliminary court of inquiry has been conducted over the last two days and will resume next week. Although it now appears that the danger from petroleum pollution has been averted, it remains to be seen what damage has been done to the reef. The transfer ran aground in heavy seas on the night of January sixth, possibly due to a faulty auto pilot. She was on her way to Mobile, Alabama, having discharged cargo earlier that day at the port of Big Creek.

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