Every Thursday on MCL is (good) green news day. It’s when I give doom and gloom the beady eye by sharing a selection of the latest feel-good stories that have helped warm the cockles of my increasingly green heart (and which are inspiring me to live a better, greener life).

UN declaration will protect SA coast from oil pollution

Tankers - image courtesy of monstamash/sxcBack in 1983, off the coast of South Africa, the Spanish tanker Castillo de Bellver caught fire and started leaking, haemorrhaging a whopping 78 million gallons of oil into our beautiful coastal waters.

In April of 2004, “Cape Africa”, a Taiwanese cargo ship passing the Cape discovered a rather large hole in its hull and had to be evacuated. If the salvage operation that followed hadn’t been successful, around 1 800 tons of bunker fuel would very likely have spilled out into the ocean and made its way onto our shores (never mind the vast quantities of iron ore the ship was carrying).

Nasty. Very nasty. But at least neither incident was intentional. What is intentional, however, is the routine (illegal) dumping of oil and cargo by the many tankers that make the journey round the tip of Africa.

“”Oil has often been sighted by our air patrols without indication of source and resident environmentalists are kept very busy cleaning and rehabilitating oil-soiled sea-life …

“According to DEAT, almost 30 000 African penguins were treated for oil pollution between by 1994 and 2002. ” (via)

Doesn’t reading that just make you want to get all activist-like and chain yourself to a boat, Greenpeace-style?   Bastards.

But, happily, there’s good news on this front.  A new UN declaration will give our coastline some extra legal protection from these polluting pinheads:

“As of the 1st of August 2008, it will become an offence for oil tankers and other large ships to clean out their cargo or to dump oily waste in the “Special Area” which stretches from Lambert’s Bay on the Cape West Coast all the way to East London in the Eastern Cape…

“The new special status of the coastline will be marked on international navigational charts and will effectively ban all tankers from cleaning out their cargo or dumping while they are within the Special Area. Tankers engaged in trade with SA will be required to retain waste on board for discharge into adequate waste facilities in the Port. “

Which is all very well, and very good news indeed – but can they enforce it, the cynic in me is wondering… Well, according to the article, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) plans to boost the overhead patrols already conducted by the South African Air Force, by establishing a “Sea Watch and Response capability to enhance surveillance of the entire coast”.

So perhaps they can.

And so on to other news:

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