17 February 2009

Russian Oil Slick heads towards Irish Coast

A huge oil slick (photo above) in the Celtic Sea is heading towards the Irish coast and could reach the shore in about two weeks' time.

Ireland's Department of Transport and the Marine has confirmed that a spill of up to 1000 tonnes of fuel oil is floating just 43 nautical miles south of the Fastnet lighthouse and drifting towards the Irish mainland.

Aerial surveillance of the scene by the Waterford-based Coast Guard helicopter has established that the oil spill covers currently an area of approximately 4.5 km by 5 km, surrounding the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and a refuelling tanker of the Russian Navy (photo below).

Russia's Naval Attaché to Ireland has now confirmed that the Admiral Kuznetsov performed a fuel transfer from a Russian supply tanker at sea when the spill took place.

Meanwhile a spokesman from the Irish Department of Transport and the Marine said: "Several vessels are at the scene in the Celtic Sea at the moment. They include the Russian aircraft carrier, two refuelling tankers, one Russian ocean-going tug, one Russian destroyer, one British destroyer and the Irish Naval vessel L.É. Aisling. It is believed that the Russian Task Group may leave the Celtic Sea tomorrow, having completed their refuelling operations."

The Irish Coast Guard, in co-operation with the British Coastguard, is now carrying out aerial pollution surveillance flights over the area. Samples of the oil have been taken from the scene to be analysed.

As soon as further information is available, I will share it with you here.

The Emerald Islander

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