Bulgaria’s Environment Ministry reports pollution at site of stranded ship

Samples of water near the Vera Su, the cargo ship stranded near Bulgaria’s coast, showed levels of ammonium-nitrogen seven times above permissible values, the Environment and Waters Ministry said on October 17.

Levels of nitrite-nitrogen also exceeded permissible levels.

The Turkish-owned, Panamanian-flagged vessel, carrying a cargo of chemical fertiliser, was stranded on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast near Kamen Bryag on September 20. The crew were evacuated a week ago. The captain and second mate face criminal charges in connection with the stranding.

Much of the ship’s fuel has been removed, but most of the cargo remains aboard, while reports have said that the vessel has been sinking lower into the water.

The Environment Ministry said that on October 16, three samples were taken from the water near the ship, from a point 60m south of the vessel and from a point near its bow.

The ministry has notified the Maritime Administration agency and the regional co-ordination staff of the results of the water sampling.

On Saturday, the Environment Ministry reported that, acting on a report from the Border Police on Friday, it had identified a slick where the ammonium-nitrogen level was three times higher than previously. However, the Maritime Agency said on Saturday that the slick had dispersed and, given the rough seas hitting the ship, amid bad weather such slicks were to be expected.

The Environment Ministry said that its teams were continuing to monitor the state of the waters near the ship on a daily basis.

Photo: Ministry of Environment and Waters

Bulgarian National Radio reported on October 17 that the Transport Ministry said that it was ready with a rescue plan, but was waiting for an answer from the Environment Ministry as to what to do about the cargo.

Pending this response and at an appropriate time, the Transport Ministry was ready to proceed with unloading the ship.

Suitable weather conditions for this were expected on Tuesday, the ministry said.

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