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Oil Tanker Sinks

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout' started by rimrocker, Nov 19, 2002.

  1. rimrocker

    rimrocker Contributing Member

    Dec 22, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Oil Tanker Breaks in Half Near Spanish Coast

    The Associated Press
    Tuesday, November 19, 2002; 9:47 AM

    MADRID, Spain –– A damaged tanker carrying more than 20 million gallons of oil broke in two off the northwest coast of Spain and the rear half sank Tuesday, threatening an environmental disaster.

    If the Bahamas-flagged Prestige spills its entire cargo as it goes down in stormy weather about 150 miles off the coast, the spill would be nearly twice the size of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska. Some 10.92 million gallons of crude were lost from the Valdez.

    "The back part of the boat has sunk," said Lars Walder, a spokesman for SMIT salvage company. "The other part will sink soon."

    "We can say goodbye to the ship and its cargo," Walder said.

    He added that although an oil slick surrounded the vessel, its tanks appeared to be mostly intact.

    The tanker ruptured Wednesday during a storm. The salvage company estimated it had lost between 1.3 million and 2.6 million gallons of fuel so far.

    Oil has already blackened beaches in northwestern Spain, and cleanup workers said scores of animals were covered in sludge and in need of care. Fishing has been prohibited leaving hundreds out of work. The spill threatened some of the richest fishing grounds in the region.

    Most of the crew were airlifted off the ship last week.

    Salvage workers have said there is a chance some of the oil compartments could remain intact and sink 11,800 feet to the sea floor, moderating the damage.

    "A lot depends on the temperature of the sea. If it drops low enough, the oil could become a solid mass and is not so dangerous," said salvage company spokeswoman Claudia Van Andel.

    But worries about the potential for a massive environmental disaster grew.

    "We hope that the sunken part does not spill its fuel. But still it's a time bomb at the bottom of the sea," said Maria Jose Caballero, who leads the coastal protection project for Greenpeace in Spain.

    "The vessel cracked in the hull because it was very old. There's nothing that makes us believe it won't finally burst and leak all its oil," she said.

    A spokesman for ship manager Universe Maritime Ltd., based in Athens, Greece, who did not want to be identified, complained that the ship's location far off shore had exposed it to storms. The Spanish government had ordered the ship far from land to limit contamination.

    The vessel had sustained a 30- to 50-foot crack in the hull below the waterline which made it unable to proceed under its own power while salvagers sought a port to do repairs or transfer the oil to another ship.

    The ship manager claimed this was the first time such problems had occurred with the vessel.

    Along Spain's coast, soldiers and volunteers were cleaning up some 40 miles of beaches between Cape Finisterre and the city of A Coruna, a town about 370 miles northwest of Madrid. Up to 150 animals, mostly seabirds, were taken for treatment.

    "We've seen many dead fish and birds and many others in agony when we rescue them," said Ezequiel Navio, from the World Wildlife Fund's Spanish branch.

    Spain's Interior Ministry said the ship went down in an area where Portugal had responsibility for maritime rescue operations, but prevailing winds put Spain's coast at a greater risk for damage from the spill.

    Meanwhile, Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Durao Barroso said it was "absolutely sure and confirmed" by the Portuguese Navy that the tanker was lying in Spanish waters.

    Both Portugal and Spain had barred the salvagers from towing the ship to any of their ports to protect their fishing and tourism industries.

    The tanker's Greek captain, Apostolus Maguras, was jailed on charges of disobeying authorities and harming the environment.

    The ship, owned by Mare Shipping Inc. of the Bahamas, was bound for Singapore when the storm hit. Spanish authorities said the Prestige hadn't been inspected since 1999, despite regular stops in the British colony of Gibraltar – a charge that Britain denied.

    The ship's last port inspection was in 1999 and its last annual inspection was in May 2002, according to Universe Maritime, the manager. Every five years it is dry docked for a full inside and outside inspection – most recently in May 2001.

    In Brussels, EU officials demanded governments move faster to enforce new inspection rules that could prevent such catastrophes.

    Under the rules, ports are required to check at least 25 percent of all ships coming in, starting with older, single-hull vessels. Ships flying "flags of convenience" – or registered in countries with lax safety, labor or tax rules – are to be given priority, said Gilles Gantelet, spokesman for the European Commission.

    Spain's northwest coast has suffered several tanker accidents in recent years. The worst was in 1992, when the Greek tanker Aegean Sea lost 21.5 million gallons of crude oil when it ran aground near A Coruna.

  2. mr_oily

    mr_oily Member

    Dec 22, 2000
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    That really ****ing sucks!:(
  3. Cohen

    Cohen Contributing Member

    Oct 1, 1999
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    Sad for the animals.

    I wonder if they fill the tanks to the brim? If they don't, I couldn't imagine them withstanding the stress at almost 12,000 feet.
  4. B-Bob

    B-Bob "94-year-old self-described dreamer"

    Jul 26, 2002
    Likes Received:
    I'm sorry, there is nothing funny about this topic, but you do have to appreciate that the first reply to the thread came from a poster named mr_oily. :)
  5. Sonny

    Sonny Contributing Member

    Mar 20, 2001
    Likes Received:
    This is sad, yet another reason to get off of oil.

    I always wonder about these spills. I thought they had some bacteria that would "eat" the oil? Also, if it came down to it why not burn the oil instead of letting it spill everywhere? Would that make it worse?
  6. mr_oily

    mr_oily Member

    Dec 22, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Dude, I didn't even think of that!
    Damn, maybe Ishould change my name to "Mr.Watercolor"...
    But really this oil tanker thing suck!:(

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