Spain Orders Environmental Emergency Alert Over Oil Spill Near Canary Islands

Spain Orders Environmental Emergency Alert Over Oil Spill Near Canary Islands

Spain’s government activated an environmental emergency alert Saturday over oil slicks that threaten pristine beaches on the southwestern Canary Islands.

The government activated a level 2 alert after analyzing ocean current data from Spain’s Oceanographic Institute, saying the slicks could affect the islands’ vulnerable coasts. Level 2 is the second highest alert level.

The islands are a popular destination for European visitors and harbor an important tourism industry.

The government said one beach had been cleared of oil and clean-up operations were ongoing on three other beaches near the tourist hot-spot of Maspalomas on Gran Canaria after a slick came ashore Thursday.

Regional authorities were criticized by environmental groups like Greenpeace after the Russian trawler Oleg Naydenov, which caught fire in a local port on April 11, was towed out to sea as a precaution.

The boat, which carried 1,400 metric tons of a viscous type of fuel oil, sank on April 14, some 24 kilometers (15 miles) south of the island.

Now, currents could carry slicks — believed to have come from the Oleg Naydenov — to other nearby islands, the government said.

“The emergency level 2 is activated for all the Canary Islands and proactively planned surveillance flights are now surveying the south of Tenerife and La Gomera islands,” Saturday’s statement said.

Greenpeace posted photographs of a dolphin partially coated in oil, while Spanish state television TVE broadcast images of workers cleaning a rocky beach that was stained black with oil.

Red Cross spokesman Jose Antonio Rodriguez told The Associated Press that Veneguera beach on Gran Canaria island, a top European vacation spot, had been cleaned.

An unmanned remote-controlled submarine sent down 2,400 meters (7,900 feet) to survey the wreck of the Russian trawler was inspecting to see if three holes in its hull could be blocked.

Source: AP


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