Danger wrecks checked from air

AERIAL surveillance is taking place to keep watch on oil seeping from two sunken ships between Britain and Holland.The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) says it does not believe the oil will cause a problem, but planes have been sent to keep an eye on the area.

AERIAL surveillance is taking place to keep watch on oil seeping from two sunken ships between Britain and Holland.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) says it does not believe the oil will cause a problem, but planes have been sent to keep an eye on the area.

Suffolk's shores are unlikely to be threatened should a slick emerge from either ship. But the incidents heighten growing concern around the country's coast about how easily beaches and wildlife can be struck by the blight of oil.

Last month The Evening Star launched its Stop the Black Death campaign after a mystery oil slick washed ashore, leaving its horrible mess on beaches from Walberswick to Felixstowe.


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The slick left 300 seabirds dead and another 600 stricken and covered with oil, needing to be rescued and treated at the RSPCA's animal hospital.

The European Union has announced measures to keep rust-bucket tankers – timebombs waiting to spill their deadly cargoes – off the North Sea and is to outlaw single-hull vessels and older tankers.

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But these moves have led to fears that some countries will lose their oil supplies and shipping companies are mounting a legal challenge.

However, oil spills can come from other sources. The one which struck Suffolk was thought to have come from ruptured tanks of ships on the seabed which may have sunk in the Second World War. The latest fears surround two modern cargo vessels which sank in collisions.

The Tricolour sank last month in the southern North Sea after being holed by a container ship. The wreck has since been hit twice by other vessels.

Although 1,200 tons of fuel have been removed, it still has 700 tonnes of oil in its tanks. It was struck again this week by a salvage tug and some oil leaked.

The MCA said it had surveyed the area and the oil was thought to have been a small amount which dispersed without major problems.

Dutch coastguards are meanwhile keeping a close eye on the wreck of the ASSI Euro Link, which sank in a busy North Sea shipping lane at the weekend after a collision with the Swedish-owned ro-ro Seawheel Rhine.

It has 350 tonnes of marine oil on board and its owners say there is a real danger of a leak causing pollution.

Divers were today expected to make a full survey of the vessel, which lies in only 35 metres of water in a shipping channel used by tankers.

A Dutch coastguard spokesman said: "We are taking every measure possible to avoid a repeat of the incidents following the sinking of the Tricolour."

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