Oil slick could be from sunken ship

EXPERTS are still investigating the source of oil being washed up on Suffolk's shores, amid fears that it had seeped from a sunken ship sixty miles away.

EXPERTS are still investigating the source of oil being washed up on Suffolk's shores, amid fears that it had seeped from a sunken ship sixty miles away.

It was thought the oil had come from the Tricolor, which sank with its cargo of top of the range cars in December in the English Channel after being holed by a containership.

The wreck was afterwards hit twice by other ships.

While 1,200 tons of fuel have were removed from the Tricolor, it was left with 700 tons of oil in its tanks.

Last month it was struck again – this time by a salvage tug – and some oil leaked from the vessel. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) surveyed the area and the oil was thought to have dispersed without major problems.

Oil has been washing up on Suffolk's beaches but it is not clear whether it has come from the Tricolor or not.

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The Environment Agency has been carrying out tests to see if the oil is the same as that of the sunken vessel and says it definitely appears to be a different type from that which came from a spillage at Felixstowe port's oil jetty.

Suffolk Coastal council officials are carefully monitoring oil currently being washed up and waiting for further advice from the Environment Agency.

"We are working closely with the Environment Agency over the progress of this oil and any required cleaning up of the beach will be undertaken in consultation with the Environment Agency and the MCA," said Chris Slemmings, cabinet member for the environment.

"In the meantime, the council is erecting signs warning members of the public that oil is being washed up and to take care when walking along the shoreline."

The MCA has been carrying out aerial surveillance to keep watch on oil seeping from the Tricolor and also the wreck of the ASSI Euro Link, which sank in a busy North Sea shipping lane off Holland after a collision with a ro-ro ferry.

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

Fears over the vehicle carrier Tricolor have receded a little thanks to news that work to pump out its oil tanks has been successful.

Less than five per cent of its oil and diesel fuel now remains on board and this will be removed as part of the salvage of the wreck, which will be cut into small sections and removed.

Suffolk has had one of its worst winters for oil pollution with more than 300 seabirds dead and another 600 covered with oil after a slick thought to be from ruptured tanks of a sunken ship on the seabed since war-time.

This month more birds were contaminated when 2,000 gallons of recycled fuel oil escaped into Harwich harbour after a pipe at Felixstowe port split.

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