No oil leak from grounded ore carrier

Stellar Banner bulk carrier. Credit: Dietmar Hasenpusch

Polaris Shipping, the South Korean ore carrier specialist, has clarified that no oil is leaking from Stellar Banner, which ran aground outside the Ponta da Madeira terminal of Brazilian mining company Vale on 24 February 2020.

“A slight oil sheen noticed at the site is believed to be residue of ‘dead oil’, which was on the deck; not leakage from fuel tanks. Nonetheless, in close co-operation with Vale, the company is mobilising all available assets in Brazil to eradicate any potential risk from the oil spillage. An anti-pollution team is already on site, closely monitoring the situation,” Polaris Shipping said in a press statement.

Vale released a statement saying that two oil spill recovery vessels requested from compatriot oil company Petrobras arrived at the scene on 1 March.

The mining company stated that the fuel tanks of Stellar Banner, situated on the stern of the vessel, are intact and are on the opposite side of the damaged area. Stellar Banner, loaded with iron ore bound for Qingdao, China, had listed to its starboard, resulting in all its 20 crew members being evacuated.

This incident happened a week after a Busan court handed Polaris chairman Kim Wan-joong a six-month imprisonment for his role in the sinking of the ore carrier Stellar Daisy

The Marshall Islands-flagged Stellar Daisy, which was converted from a single-hull oil tanker built in 1994, sank during a routine Brazil-China voyage in the southern part of the Atlantic Ocean on 31 March 2017. Of its 24 crew members, only 2 Filipinos were rescued; however, 14 Filipinos and 8 South Koreans still remain missing. The sinking cast a spotlight on the safety of converted ore carriers.