Oil spill in Fremantle Harbour almost cleared

Fremantle Port. Photo: Andrew Ritchie
Fremantle Port. Photo: Andrew Ritchie

A Crest Tern was unable to be saved after cargo ship Nauma experienced a heavy oil spill at the north-eastern end of Fremantle Harbour on January 12.

Fremantle Ports corporate and community relations manager Neil Stanbury said the Fremantle Ports and Department of Transport response team have recovered almost all of the heavy fuel oil.

“Thanks to the keen eyes of a port services officer, the spill was very quickly spotted and containment booms immediately put around the ship,” he said.

“The boom contained the oil around the ship, preventing it from moving throughout the harbour and up the river.

“A temporary weld repairs were done to an intake sea-chest on the hull of the ship were the oil had leaked.”

The ship has been prevented from leaving the port until repairs are finished and inspected.

Mr Stanbury said it was the first significant oil spill in eight years.

“Two birds were affected by the oil spill, a pacific black duck was also treated at Murdoch Vet Hospital then taken to Native Arc and we are hoping it recovers,” he said.

“So far, two cormorants with oil have been seen but not captured as yet.

“It is obviously difficult to prevent water birds from entering the area behind the containment booms.”

John Curtin Distinguished Professor of Sustainability Peter Newman said the Fremantle port oil spill is highly sensitive for the fish and bird life associated with the mount of the river.

“The immediate responses to stop the oil may have saved us from a total disaster but there certainly needs to be a serious fine imposed as no ship should get away with such irresponsibility,” he said.

Port operation continued throughout the incident.