Greenpeace criticises Spain over trawler sinking

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THE Spanish government has been slammed by Greenpeace for its reaction to the Russian trawler catching fire in a Gran Canaria port on Saturday.

The environmental NGO hit out at Spain’s government for towing the burning Russian fishing boat full of fuel out to sea after it caught fire, saying the oil in the ship that ended up sinking poses an environmental threat.

The group demanded that Spain makes plans to extract about 1,400 metric tonnes of thick fuel oil from the Russian trawler, which was towed out to sea as a precaution. Spanish national television has since broadcast an image of a slick it said was about six kilometres long.

Spain’s development minister, Ana Pastor, was on Gran Canaria to oversee oil spill monitoring efforts, and the preparation of oil removal efforts if authorities decide they are needed.

Greenpeace’s concerns are based on Spain’s historical record in dealing with oil spills. Spain was hit with heavy international criticism in 2002 after it decided to tow a leaking oil tanker away from the country’s north-western coast instead of bringing it into port.

The tanker Prestige ended up breaking in half, spilling at least 23,000 tonnes of heavy oil that covered pristine coastline, killing an estimated 100,000 birds and countless marine wildlife. The €4.4 billion clean-up bill for the Prestige disaster is still being contested.

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