Tanker oil spill off Danish coast feared larger than first believedgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
Sunday, April 1 4:34 AM SGT
Tanker oil off Danish coast feared larger than first believed COPENHAGEN, March 31 (AFP) - Danish anti-pollution officials said on Saturday they feared that more oil from a stricken tanker in the Baltic Sea than was first thought could be heading for a series of islands rich in wildlife.
More than 400 soldiers, experts, and Danish schoolchildren Saturday engaged in a massive clean-up operation to remove the 1,000 tonnes of oil which has already been washed ashore.
A team of Greenpeace environmentalists was also heading for the scene to carry out its own assessment of the extent of the pollution.
Wildlife experts are trying to save hundreds of birds which have become trapped in the oil.
A huge slick seeped out of the 35,000 tonne Baltic Carrier tanker after it was holed by a 34,000 tonne cargo ship in the Storstroemmen archipelago, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) south of Copenhagen on Thursday.
It occurred around the dividing line between Danish and German territorial waters, some 16 miles southeast of Moen and the island of Falster.
The slick had initially been estimated as containing 1,900 tonnes of heavy fuel oil but the organisers of the clean-up operation said they were now expecting it to be around 2,700 tonnes.
"There's still a lot to do because some of the oil is below the surface and will reappear when the sea warms up," said Eyvind Nielsen, of the Danish coastguard service.
"The situation remains under control while the weather stays good. But you can't hide the fact that it's a very serious accident.
"It'll take many days, maybe even two weeks before we've collected all the oil. It's very difficult because you first have to dig it out with shovels and transport it to containers before it's taken to a centre where it's destroyed," explained Nielsen.
Bogoe, Denmark's so-called "green island", is one of the areas worst-hit by the pollution. Faroe, Falster and Moen islands have also been affected.
Around 500 tonnes of oil had been collected from the sea and coastline by the end of Saturday.
Many birds have been found dead, immobilised and suffocated by patches of fuel, environmental workers said.
But biologist Knud Flensted, of Denmark's birdwatching association, has already estimated up to 10,000 birds could eventually die if the wind worsens and scatters the fuel across a wider area.
Boats have been sucking up oil from the surface of the sea, and a helicopter has been observing the spread of the slick.
Greenpeace were also due to carry out their own survey of the site. A biologist from the organisation, Joerg Feddern, said: "We are going to see if the heavy fuel that leaked from the Baltic Carrier has reached the bottom of the sea."
If that had happened, it would destroy all the local flora and fauna, he added.
Meanwhile, an initial investigation into the collision has been published by the merchant navy which has blamed technical and human errors for the accident, saying the tanker had suddenly veered in front of the cargo ship.http://asia.dailynews.yahoo.com/headlines/world/afp/article.html?s=asia/headlines/010401/world/afp/Tanker_oil_off_Danish_coast_feared_larger_than_first_believed.html
-- Carl Jenkins (email@example.com), March 31, 2001