CHEMICAL TO CLEAN UP FIJI OIL SPILL DANGEROUS

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (March 7, 2000 – Fiji’s Daily Post)---Use of the Sea Spray chemical by the National Fire Authority to control an oil spill at the slipway in Suva is more dangerous than the oil itself, said Secretary of Marine Pollution Sher Bahadur.

"We have no choice but to use this chemical to remove the oil that has sunk to the seabed and not spread. The foreshore is dead anyway," she said. "It's important the oil is removed to avoid the risk of fire."

The oil spill was reported to be from Taiwanese fishing boats berthed at the jetty at Walu Bay in Suva.

According to Peni Fatafehi of the Marine Ports Authority of Fiji (MPAF), either the Haur Chuen No.7 or the Yihliensheng leaked oil into the water.

"But we cannot be sure which one it is at this stage," said Mr. Fatafehi, who is manager of the occupational and health safety section of the authority.

"We couldn't tell which of the two ships was leaking the oil," said Mr. Fatafehi. "But while investigating, a cylinder from one of the ships exploded."

Mr. Bahadur was also at the scene and hit out at PricewaterhouseCoopers for not cleaning up their act down at the slipway.

In response to the accusation, Ms. Jenny Seeto of PricewaterhouseCoopers said, "What they must realize is that this is a place where people come to repair boats so there is always rubbish lying around. But after the work is done it's cleared away."

Ms. Seeto is one of the official receivers in charge of the SFL account for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

"It wasn't the receivers who spilled the oil," she said. "That is the responsibility of the ship owners."

She said the situation is similar to ships berthing at the Suva wharf. If they spill oil into the water, no one will hold the Ports Authority responsible.

Mr. Bahadur said Shipbuilders Fiji Limited (SFL) is responsible and Pricewaterhouse is the official receivers of SFL. When PricewaterhouseCoopers officials turned up at the slipway, Mr. Bahadur made verbal attacks against them. They had asked for a meeting to discuss the situation.

"No, no more meetings because we're tired of meetings and nothing gets done," Mr. Bahadur said.

He intends to officially complain and write letters to whoever wants to know about the marine pollution down at the jetty.

And while authorities were trying to clean up the oil spill, a gas full of ammonia exploded in a nearby fishing vessel.

For additional reports from Fiji’s Daily Post, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/Fijilive.

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