An oil tanker, built in the 1970’s and banned from EU waters for not having passed official safety inspections, has been allowed to refuel in the port of Santa Cruz, according to Port Authorities.

The ship, named Blue Ice, is a small tanker of about 90 metres in length and registered Saint Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean.

It was refused entry into the European Union after faults were detected during a series of inspections, although the Government sources have not revealed the exact nature of the defects. However, Blue Ice received authorisation to dock in Santa Cruz because it was low on fuel and it was deemed preferable to allow it to stay and refuel rather than it be left to drift.

The National Police supervised the tanker’s refuelling operation which took around 2 hours. The ship did not appear to be carrying any cargo.

After a number of high profile disasters off the coasts of Europe involving older single-skinned tankers, new regulations were introduced. Oil tankers are now required to have a second, inner skin which adds extra protection against an oil spill in the event of a collision.

The Canarian Government has expressed its surprise that the independent authorities were not informed. Its sources state that whilst they recognise that responsibility lies with the State, the Canary Islands were recently declared a “Zona Marítima Especialmente Sensible” (Special Maritime Area) by the International Maritime Organisation. They say they will therefore appeal to Capitanía Marítima (Marine Headquarters) – headed by the Ministry of Development – for more information on the matter.