Andy Liddell of MOD’s Salvage & Marine Operations division has given an update on the small release of oil in James’ Bay yesterday, caused by a valve failure during the hot tapping process on the RFA Darkdale wreck.

Andy said:   

 “A second valve was successfully installed into tank 5 Port yesterday afternoon and the pumping operation started as soon as this was in place. 

 “In addition to the leak resulting from the failed valve, it became apparent that there were also several small leaks from other places on this particular tank – all from corroded rivets.  The rivet lines had obviously been very fragile and the disturbance of us installing valves had been enough to make them leak.  All these leaks were patched up with putty and the leaks from the tank were all stopped by late afternoon.

 “We pumped the tank until late evening, when we saw clean water being pumped -indicating that the tank was empty.  We left the tank to settle overnight to allow any remnants of oil to migrate to the top of the tank, before giving the tank a final short pump this morning. 

 “We removed approximately 50 cubic metres of oil from this tank and are now satisfied that it no longer contains any significant oil.  

 “Work is continuing with installing the remaining valves on the wreck today, but using a different system which puts less force on the wreck – so hopefully should not disturb any of the rivets.”


28 July 2015




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