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The Transocean Winner grounding: What we know so far

The Transocean Winner

Photo credit: Gillies Mackenzie
The Transocean Winner Photo credit: Gillies Mackenzie

On Monday August 8th at around 7.30am, the Transocean Winner rig became grounded off the Isle of Lewis. Here’s what we know so far about the incident.

The Transocean Winner had been on a journey from Norway to Malta when it became stuck in bad weather off the Western Isles.

Tens of thousands of litres of diesel fuel are believed to have spilled into the ocean from the oil rig.

At the time of the incident, the rig had been carrying 280 tonnes of diesel – more than 300,000 litres – when it was blown ashore in severe weather conditions on the western side of the Isle of Lewis.

The semi-submersible rig is believed to have detached from its tug during towing and the weather prevented the line being reconnected.

No-one was on board the rig when it grounded at Dalmore beach near Carloway.

Nearby residents have been urged to stay away from the beach as teams continue to work and a temporary 300-metre (980ft) exclusion zone has been set up at sea.

Environmental groups have raised concerns while it is expected to take “some time” to re-float the rig as it came ashore at high tide with a storm surge.

Scotland’s Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said serious questions needed to be asked as to why the rig was being towed during severe weather.

She said: “Although the diesel is expected to rapidly disperse in the current sea conditions, the Environment Group, which is chaired by Marine Scotland, has put in place measures to swiftly
identify any potential environmental impact on this precious and fragile marine habitat.

“This whole incident raises serious questions about why this rig was being towed through Scottish waters when such stormy conditions were forecast and the Deputy First Minister has been in
direct contact with the UK Government about this very point.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland has also said it could create a “serious problem” for wildlife, tourism and fishing in the area.

Earlier this week, a salvage expert said the operation to salvage the rig “could cost millions” as well as there being no clear time frame on when it will be cleared from the region.

An investigation has now begun into the incident.

A Marine Accident Investigation Branch spokesman said: “The Marine Accident Investigation Branch has started an investigation into Alp Forward’s loss of its tow, Transocean Winner, and the subsequent grounding of the semi-submersible on the west coast of Lewis.”

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