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Danube, Rhine, Polluted By Oil Leaks

December 12, 1987

PASSAU, West Germany (AP) _ About 10,400 gallons of heating oil leaked from a Yugoslav tanker into the Danube, polluting a 40-mile stretch of the river in northern Austria, police reported Saturday.

They said the Yugoslav captain told investigators he had not been aware that his ship’s tanks had developed a leak.

The tanker was sailing upstream to Passau and the leak was discovered only when the ship docked in the Danube port late Friday, police said.

Authorities immediately informed Austrian officials and deployed ships and other floating barriers on the river to prevent the slick making landfall, There were no reports of serious ecological damage.

Meanwhile, authorities said as much as 130 gallons of heating oil had leaked into the Rhine River near the Swiss border. They said oil leaked from a pipe carrying oil to a gravel plant at Grenzach-Wyhlen.

In Austria, oil from the leak on the Danube flowed as far downstream as Ottensheim, about three miles northwest of the central industrial city of Linz.

Much of the oil was stopped from moving farther downstream at Aschach, about 30 miles from the West German border, authorities said. However, some of it evaded efforts by more than 100 firemen to stop its progress and flowed over the turbines of the power station there, the Austria Press Agency reported.

An official from the Austrian river police said cold temperatures were causing the oil to solidify, enabling firemen to remove clumps of it with nets.

However, Karl Salcher of the provincial fire department of Upper Austria where Ottensheim and Aschach are located, said it could take days to remove the oil film.

Update hourly