(DF) “Vera Su” Urea Carrier Is Floundering – Minister

October 2 (BTA) – The “Vera Su” is in critical condition, it is taking water,” caretaker Transport, IT and Communications Minister Hristo Aleksiev told an extraordinary news briefing on the site of the accident on Saturday. The vessel has approached the shore, and it is apparently floundering, he added. The 32-years-old Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier “Vera Su”, owned by a Turkish company and with a 9-strong Turkish crew, veered off course and ran aground at the Kamen Bryag Locality on the night of September 20, probably due to misnavigation. The ship carries 3,000 tonnes of urea. “We prioritize saving human lives, we have built a facility to evacuate the crew, but they refuse to abandon ship,” he added. Because of the bad weather, the stormy sea, the strong wind and the nearby rocks, an evacuation by helicopter is considered an excessively risky option, Aleksiev explained. He pointed out that, according to the European Maritime Safety Agency, urea is not a hazardous cargo. Ecologists have warned, however, that if the fertilizer pollutes the seawater, the Northern Bulgarian Black Sea coast is facing a “nitrogen apocalypse”. Last week, an attempt to relieve the carrier of part of its cargo and thus help her break free from the shallows failed because an unsuitable crane bucket spilled most of the fertilizer into the sea. Divers have inspected the hull of the stranded ship and have found that while it was holed by the collision with the onshore rocks, the cargo compartments were intact. Apparently, this is no longer the case. The salvage of “Vera Su” has been delayed by a combination of lack of experience and proper equipment, absence of adequate arrangements and bad weather. VE/LG