Spain's fishermen fear new slick
SPANISH fishermen were last night bracing themselves for economic ruin after another vast oil slick from the sunken Prestige threatened to hit the beaches.
Thanks to a change in the wind direction, the 9,000-tonne "black tide" did not wash up on the Galician coast as expected. However, locals were by no means optimistic, and last night the slick remained just 15 miles off shore.
If the blanket does swamp the coast it will be the third such slick to wash up on the Galician shore since the tanker first floundered on 13 November. Some 6,000 tonnes of the sludge had been dumped in two waves of oil spilled immediately after the tanker’s hull was torn open.
Despite predictions the oil that sank with the Prestige would solidify in the cold and high pressure of the sea, reconnaissance planes continue to detect oil appearing from the wreck, which lies at a depth of more than two miles.
Experts yesterday estimated that the approaching oil covers roughly 80 square miles of sea. The slick was breaking into relatively small patches as it approached the coast and was swept by gale force winds and five-metre waves.
Yesterday, groups of fishermen stood on cliff tops around Cape Finisterre, some with binoculars, watching the oil move inexorably towards the coast.
Oil-skimming ships and floating barriers designed to collect and contain the spill were deployed by maritime officials, and fishermen were wondering if it was going to arrive.
"It’s a disaster, just a disaster", said Jose Ramon, 26, at the Cape Finisterre lighthouse.
The country’s environment minister, Jaume Matas, could offer precious few assurances to Galicians that the slick could be kept away from their rich, and as yet untouched, southern shellfish areas.
"Things are changing so much, it’s difficult to predict," he told radio listeners when asked if the areas would be spared the latest wave of sludge.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South west