More concerns raised about oil-laden tankers lying off coast

The honorary warden of the Noss Nature Reserve has questioned why a fully-laden oil tanker which sat off the coast of Shetland for weeks has been allowed to return to the isles.

Jonathan Wills said that the Eagle Bintulu had lain around five miles from Noss last year while loaded with crude oil.

The tanker is sailing into Sullom Voe as of Friday morning and Dr Wills said he believed the tanker had broken terminal rules last year.

Tankers which arrive or leave Sullom Voe have to remain at least 20 miles from the coast.

Dr Wills said that previously, “if you broke the rules, you were banned”.

“I want to know why it’s not been banned, and I want an assurance that the master has been told he mustn’t loiter near national nature reserves.”

He said the practice of lying off the coast while fully-laden was “not illegal”, but added: “It seems to me to be unwise.”

Dr Wills admitted that tankers of these size were “well-run ships”, but he warned that things can still go wrong on first-class ships.

He is concerned that if there was to be an incident onboard a tanker lying off the coast of Shetland rather than at Sullom Voe, a tug would not be able to get to her in time to prevent major damage to the isles.

“It’s unthinkable what it would do to the wildlife,” he added.

Dr Wills has this morning asked SIC convener Malcolm Bell and councillor Andrea Manson to look into the situation.

He said he was “alarmed” that the council could allow the tanker to return.

And Dr Wills added he was told by the SIC when he raised the issue last year that it “wasn’t a problem”.

“But there is a problem,” he said.

More in next Friday’s edition of The Shetland Times.


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