13 November 2007 10:18 [Source: ICIS news]
MOSCOW (ICIS news)--Russian authorities were dealing with an unprecedented environmental disaster near the northern mouth of the Black Sea on Tuesday following the loss and damage to shipping in Sunday’s severe storm.
The oil clean-up alone could cost more than €100m ($145m), officials estimated, with the slick potentially killing at least 30,000 sea birds. ?xml:namespace>
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov to oversee rescue efforts.
Leaked oil products, notably some 2,000 tonnes of diesel fuel, constitute a major problem, Oleg Mitvol, deputy head of
Mitvol also warned that the sulphur leak could eventually lead to acid rains in the region.
Authorities mobilised about 1,000 emergency personnel and managed to collect some 160 tonnes of oil products from the sea,
Four ships sank, six vessels ran aground and two oil tankers were damaged in Sunday’s storm.
Oil products leaked from the Volganeft-139. Three of the lost ships - the Russia-registered vessels Kovel, Nakhichevan and Volnogorsk - contained between them about 6,800 tonnes of sulphur, according to the ministry.
They were Fedcominvest barges transporting product to the
Novorossiisk prosecutor Maxim Stepanenko estimated the environmental damage from the oil leak alone at Rb3.5bn (€100m).
Some Russian officials already blamed the crews of the stricken vessels for ignoring storm warnings and doing nothing to prevent the disaster. The
However, shipowners denied the accusations.
The Kovel sank under force majeure circumstances, said Alexander Zhukov, CEO of Russia's Port Turayevo shipping company, the vessels owners.
He claimed in a company statement that the sulphur on board was in hermetically sealed packages and that there was no threat of a sulphur leak.
($1 = €0.69)
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