We would like to inform Members of the continuing problem of oil pollution in the port of Pointe Noire, Congo, and the subsequent risk of hull contamination.
In September 2012 an oil pipeline in the port was struck during dredging operations. Since then the port and some berths/fenders have been heavily polluted with oil residue. Whilst the Port Authority is aware of the situation, no concrete measures appear to have been undertaken in order to resolve the situation. Consequently vessels calling at the port are exposed to having their hulls contaminated, to a lesser or greater extent depending on local conditions at the time, often necessitating the cleaning of the hull at anchor prior to the vessel’s departure.
In the event of hull contamination we would advise Members as follows:
1. The Master should issue a Letter of Protest (LOP) and transmit it to his agent to have it signed by the Port Authorities (if the Harbour Master refuses to sign the appropriate LOP the agent should do so).
2. Should it be necessary to prove that the oil pollution is not emanating from the vessel it is advised that samples of the oil from the water around the vessel are taken.
3. If hull cleaning is required it must be carried out at anchor (it is not permissible in the port) either by the crew or by a local company hired for the purpose via the ship’s agent.
4. It is prudent for Members to ensure that the vessel has appropriately approved oil cleaning chemicals/solvents on board prior to arrival at Pointe Noire as this may assist in keeping down any cleaning costs should hull cleaning be required.
Source of information: Eltvedt & O’Sullivan, Manager’s Agents for TCI Africa (P&I Correspondents) email@example.com through the Shipowners’ Club