‘Disaster in Black Sea as storm sinks tanker’

14 11 2007

A storm struck 10 ships in the Strait of Kerch, which links the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, sinking a Russian oil tanker, the Volganeft-139 and causing widespread environmental damage in The Black Sea region. Although most of the crew were rescued, five seamen were killed and 18 are still missing. The Volganeft-139 split in two and spilled at least 1300 tonnes of oil into the water. The severe weather prevented emergency workers from collecting the oil, which authorities said was sinking to the seabed. Another storm in the area is forecast, prompting a ban on tankers docking at the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk.

The environmental destruction has been severe. Birds covered in thick oil are being recovered on the shore and biodiversity is being reduced. Vladimir Chuprov, head of the energy department at Greenpeace, told the RIA Novosti news agency: “As a result of the oil spill into the sea, heavy elements of fuel oil will settle on the seabed and cause hydrocarbons to permeate the Sea of Azov. This will lead to a shortage of oxygen in the water, and the unique fauna will suffer greatly.”

Two of the other freighters that sank were carrying around 6500 tonnes of sulphur, the Russian emergency situations ministry said. Sergei Baranovsky, the president of the Green Cross environmental group, said sulphur could potentially be more hazardous to the environment than the oil.

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Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/nov/12/pollution.russia?gusrc=rss (Nov 12th 2007)

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