MORAY BEACHES WILL be affected by ballast water from Africa and Russia if plans to allow ship-to-ship oil transfers at the mouth of the Cromarty Firth are given the go-ahead.
That is the view of environmentalist Steve Truluck after attending a meeting last week called to discuss the growing crisis since the Cromarty Firth Port Authority (CFPA) launched their bid to extend oil transfers into the Moray Firth.
Concerns have been growing since the CFPA intention was revealed just before Christmas with complaints from campaigners forcing an extension to the deadline for responses to a consultation over what they said was a poorly advertised bid.
Pressure is also being exerted on the Scottish Government who, apart from a statement in the last few days saying that they “remained vigilant” over the dangers posed by such transfers, have remained tight lipped.
Following the public meeting last week Mr Truluck pointed to ballast tanks being emptied during ship-to-ship operations, saying: “The Moray coast will be affected by the ballast water from Africa and Russia which could contain all sorts, not to mention potential queues of ships and the noise and fumes from the transfer.
“The potential for an oil spill has been seriously underestimated in the modelling for the application. They have used a figure of 1 Tonne which is the volume of oil contained within the pipe.
“This ignores the fact that the oil is pumped at a rate of 2 Tonnes/second with a 40 second shutdown process at best, giving a minimum spill of 80 Tonnes. Plus, they have not considered collisions, boats dragging anchor etc.
“If a transfer ship gets in difficulty the nearest available tugs are in Orkney – and if a spill were to occur the oil will be left to degrade naturally.
“This is scandalous and the information needs to be spread in order to give people time to object before the deadline on the February 8.”
Beaches at Findhorn, Burghead and Lossiemouth have been highlighted as the likely landing point in Moray for waste from any spills to come ashore.
Anyone wishing to express their objections to the proposals before the February 8 deadline can do so by email to email@example.com (Intertek), firstname.lastname@example.org (Maritime and Coastguard Agency) and email@example.com (Port of Cromarty Firth).
Alternatively views can be expressed in writing to Emma Langley, Intertek, Exchange House, 33 Station Road, Liphook, Hampshire, GU30 7DW and Stan Woznicki, Head of Counter Pollution and Salvage, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Spring Place, 105 Commercial Road, Southampton, SO15 1EG.