By Jamal Adel.
Tripoli, 4 January 2015:
The Libyan government, headed by Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thinni in Beida, has said that it was . . .[restrict]“deeply grateful” and appreciative for the teams of firefighters who put out the oil tank fires at Sidra oil port last week. It added that it was looking at how it could compensate them for their efforts.
Following up an official statement released Sunday morning expressing its gratitude, government spokesperson Mohamed Kamal Bazaza told the Libya Herald: “We totally appreciate the tremendous and incredible effort made by the firefighters at Sidra.”
The oil tanks at Libya’s largest oil port were hit on 25 December. It is claimed that the missiles were launched by Libya Dawn forces from a vessel at sea. After the first tank caught fire, it was only a day and a half before it collapsed, causing an oil spill and the spread of the fire to two more tanks. Eventually, the blaze spread to more tanks, bringing the total to seven burning oil tanks.
At first, the government called upon Germany, Italy and the United States for help, but their hands were tied because neither warring party would agree to the ceasefire that would allow outside forces to enter and help put out the fires.
The government then looked at contracting a US company for the job, with an estimated cost of $6 million.
Fortunately, even though the firefighters lacked adequate resources and the proper training for such a massive undertaking, as those who pitched in were not only firemen from Brega, Sidra and Ras Lanuf terminals, but also oil engineers, they were able to fully extinguish the flames without outside help on Friday, after nine days.
“We are very aware of the risk the firefighters took to put out the fire, especially given their lack of equipment and training for a disaster of this magnitude,” Bazaza said.
Bazaza went on to explain that the government was not only fearful of a further spread of the fire, but also of the effects of the fires on air quality and the potential of a further oil spill.
“The teams have given us all a significant boost through their commitment and patriotism,” Bazaza said. [/restrict]