Oil spill in Cape Town

Oil leaking from a Turkish bulk carrier that ran aground three years ago off the coast of Cape Town has led to the closure of beaches at Table View, Reitvlei and Dolphin Beach.

It is believed that bad weather conditions caused the vessel to disintegrate, resulting in a thick layer of bunker oil leaking into the sea and being washed ashore. As rough seas continue to hamper the clean-up operation, several penguins on Robben Island have become contaminated from the slick and authorities have banned swimming and recreational activities in the area.

The Turkish-operated "Seli 1" ship ran aground off Bloubergstrand near Table Bay in September 2009, having reported engine failure and a snapped anchor chain. It was carrying 30,000 tons of coal and 660 tons of heavy fuel and had been en route to Gibraltar.

Three years later the unsightly ship remains, clearly visible from tourist beaches. It is the centre of an ongoing argument between the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and the department of environmental affairs over who is responsible for disposing of the wreck.

One unexpected effect of the ship's prolonged stay off the Cape Town coast has been the creation of new sandbanks and high waves, making the area extremely popular with surfers.

In September 2011 a one-kilometre slick from the ship was washed up at Blouberg.