Greek Tanker Oil Loss Double That Of Exxon Valdez Disaster
LA CORUNA, Spain (AP) _ Official estimates released Sunday indicate the Greek tanker Aegean Sea lost 21.5 million gallons of crude oil when it ran aground, almost twice the amount spilled in the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.
It has not been determined how much of the oil was burned off. An explosion split the tanker in two after it ran aground on Dec. 3 while trying to enter this northwestern port in foul weather. The resulting fire burned for 24 hours.
The Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons into Alaska’s Prince William Sound three years ago, in what was considered the worst oil tanker disaster of recent years.
So far about 1.1 million gallons of crude have been recovered from the Aegean Sea spill, and salvage operations showed an estimated 1.2 million gallons of the tanker’s cargo was still on board, merchant marine spokesman Juan Jose Alvarez said at a press conference.
The figures showed the Aegean Sea, which had a cargo of about 23.8 million gallons, lost about 21.5 million gallons.
La Coruna central government representative Pilar Lledo said calm seas over the weekend showed the slick caused by the tanker had diminished greatly, although she gave no details of the area of sea or land affected.
The environmental group Greenpeace on Friday estimated that 125 miles of the region’s rugged coastline were affected by the spill, and officials said some 15 miles of beach had been stained.
The impact on the area’s fishing industry has yet to be fully determined, but officials have said the area could lose $15 million from ruined mussel farms, spoiled shellfish beds and wrecked equipment.
Lledo, the local government representative, told the press conference that salvage workers found no crude in the ship’s stern.
The partially submerged stern, which holds up to seven of the vessel’s nine tanks, was initially believed to contain most of the oil expected to be found on the wrecked ship.