FUEL ON BOARD DAMAGED SHIP CRISTOFORO COLOMBO TO BE PUMPED TO SHORE

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YUZHNO SAKHALINSK, September 18 (RIA Novosti) -On Saturday, engineers in the port of Kholmsk (southwestern Sakhalin) finished mounting a pipeline aboard the damaged Belgian ship Cristoforo Colombo to pump out the fuel still remaining in the vessel's tanks, an official of the emergency centre set up to deal with the crisis told RIA Novosti.

Oil and diesel fuel will be pumped out either to the shore or to another vessel, the official said. On Friday, the oil products still held in the ship's two damaged tanks were pumped out into its other tanks that remained intact after the Cristoforo Colombo had run aground last week.

The special dredging ship of a Belgian service company ran aground in the Kholmsk harbour some 50 meters off the shore on September 8 when the Songda typhoon swept across Sakhalin. As a result, two of the vessel's fuel tanks were damaged and its hull was punctured in the engine compartment area, with 200 tons of oil and diesel fuel having leaked into open sea.

The decision to pump out the remaining fuel was taken to avoid the risk of additional pollution of the harbour likely to occur when work starts shortly to take the Cristoforo Colombo off the rocks, the official said. Engineers of the Sakhalin emergency and rescue centre are currently working onboard the vessel. They are to seal up major holes in the ship's bottom.

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