Fury over Algeciras oil spill as toxic slick nears wildlife reserve

Image of a Vueling aircraft. Credit: Wikipedia - Pedro Aragão - http://www.jetphotos.net/photo/8121427 - CC BY-SA 3.0

AN OIL spill in the Strait of Gibraltar has sparked outrage with a 6,000 square metre slick dangerously close to El Estrecho Natural Park.

Spots of toxic light hydrocarbon oil washed up on El Chinarral beach in Algeciras, Cadiz, earlier today (Sunday) following an incident involving a barge visiting a refuelling station.

Maritime Rescue confirmed in a statement that a slick measuring around 300 by 20 metres had been spotted near the shore.

Morning beachgoers posted images of their oil-covered feet, while Juan Corrales, a spokesman for environmental group Verdemar Ecologistas de Accion referred to the spill as “a new ecological disaster.”

He added: “El Chinarral is only 200 metres away from the El Estrecho Natural Park, so it is likely that the spill has affected the protected area, with a potential risk for threatened species.”

El Estrecho Park covers the Spanish side of the Strait of Gibraltar from Algeciras to Tarifa, and is among the most important points for migrating birds and marine mammals in the world.

Mr Corrales alleges that the disaster “was waiting to happen” due to the “somewhat diluted safety protocols” employed by Algeciras City Council and the Port Authority of Algeciras Bay since “neither stops ships from entering protected parts of the bay.”

Council comeback

A council statement confirmed that “small” pools of oil had been found on the beach, and that the beaches and civil protection departments were coordinating a cleanup operation alongside the Local Police.

Beaches councillor Segundo Avila confirmed that “expenses will be billed to those responsible for the emergency.”

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