A serious water pollution incident occurred on Saturday 23 June 2018 in the Derde Petroleumhaven in the Botlek area of the Port of Rotterdam. A large amount of heavy fuel oil spilled into the water.
The Port of Rotterdam Authority and the emergency services installed oil booms around the vessel as quickly as possible to prevent the further spread of the oil.
The installation of the oil booms was successful but some of the oil had already spread beyond the incident area. On Sunday 24 June 2018 a considerable spread of traces of oil was observed on the water from Hoek van Holland to Spijkenisse bridge and to the Benelux tunnel. Most of the oil is in the Derde Petroleumhaven.
Experts are expecting the clean-up operation to take days if not weeks, or possibly even longer. Experts carried out an inspection on the water early on Sunday afternoon. The inspection findings will be used to produce an action plan for the oil-cleaning operation by a specialist company. This action plan is a joint Rijkswaterstaat (RWS) and Port Authority plan, as they are responsible respectively for the waterways and port basins. Economic ports will remain open as far as possible.
In the meantime the Safety Region Rotterdam Rijnmond (VRR) has determined two priorities: the oil-cleaning operation and a focus on the care of oil-soaked birds. The Harbour Master’s division of the Port Authority is primarily responsible for the coordination of the pollution clean-up operation in the ports and the consequences for shipping.
RWS is primarily responsible for the coordination of the clean-up operations on the waterways. RWS also coordinates collaboration between Dierenambulance (animal rescue) and Vogelbescherming (bird protection) for receiving and cleaning oil-soaked birds, for which a national unit has been deployed.
The competent authorities have advised people to avoid direct contact with the oil. The fire service will assist Dierenbescherming employees with boats and additional protective equipment.
The priority of the clean-up operation is now to clean the surface water in the Derde Petroleumhaven. Only then can vessels be cleaned in a special washing facility so that they are clean and safe to re-join shipping traffic.
The Derde Petroleumhaven, Wiltonhaven and the marinas of Vlaardingen and Schiedam will remain closed until further notice. The closed marinas are likely to remain closed for the entire Sunday. All agents and involved companies in the affected ports were informed of the incident and the possible consequences of this on Saturday.
The Port of Rotterdam Authority is holding the owner of the tanker liable.