After the sinking of the container ship “Grande America” threatens an environmental disaster in France.
After the sinking of the container ship “Grande America” in the Bay of Biscay, France wishes by all means to stop an oil spill on its Atlantic coast.
“We are preparing ourselves,” stated Environment Minister François de Rugy on Thursday.
Based on his estimations, the oil spill floating in the Atlantic could reach the west coast of France on Sunday or Monday, bringing in countless domestic and foreign tourists in summer.
“We are facing an oil spill that will sooner or later reach our shores,” he informed Public Sénat.
The Italian-flagged freighter was sunk some 300 kilometers off the French coast on Tuesday after a day-long fire. The ship had last made in Hamburg station.
It created a roughly ten kilometers long and one kilometer wide oil slick .
Special ships were employed to combat marine pollution, the department chief stated to the station BFMTV.
“If we can pump it (the heavy oil) on the sea, we will do it.” The oil comes from the freighter’s fuel tanks.
De Rugy called as endangered regions, the department of Charente-Maritime with the port city of La Rochelle and the Gironde, in the middle of Bordeaux.
He did not rule out that the oil might reach the Spanish Bay of Biscay.
De Rugy also pointed to the challenging weather conditions.
In the Biscay sweep a strong west wind.
At this point it should be detected from the air where the oil is going.
He also talked about the potential use of an underwater robot to check if the wreck, which is 4,500 meters deep, had cracks.
The responsible Marine Prefecture in Brest had advised that the European Maritime Safety Agency was also engaged in the fight against pollution.
The west coast of France attracts numerous tourists in the summer, La Rochelle, the sandy beaches of the Vendée or the Île d’Oléron are well known.
In the seaside resort of Biarritz, near the Spanish border, President Emmanuel Macron plans to sponsor the summit of the seven major industrialized countries (G7) in August.
In France, memories of earlier ship catastrophes were awakened.
In December 1999, the shipwreck of the Erika tanker in the English Channel prompted a huge oil spill.
In March 1978, the tanker “Amoco Cadiz” ran aground in Brittany. Authorities stated the tanker catastrophes are not comparable to the sinking of the Italian freighter, since much more oil had leaked out at that time.
The sunken Italian ship had hazardous goods on board.
The contents of 45 containers are classified as hazardous, Marine Prefecture had noted.
The “Grande America” had about 2200 tons of heavy oil on board, as the station Franceinfo revealed. The 214-meter-long ship, which also carried around 2000 vehicles, had recently got a strong list.
A spokesman for the environmental organization Robin des Bois announced in the broadcaster Franceinfo, his organization wishes to file in the coming days in the case of the “Grande America” lawsuit against unknown.
Based on the prefecture, 27 people were on board the ship, they were saved by the British warship «HMS Argyll». The ship was on its way to Casablanca in Morocco.
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