Fuel From Sunken Russian Trawler Heading to Tenerife Beaches

Monday April 27, 2015

Greenpeace has reported a 100 kilometre long bunker spill from a Russian fishing trawler that sank off the Canary Islands earlier this month, Agence France-Presse reports.

Spain's Public Works minister Ana Pastor said the Oleg Neydenov was located by robot on April 21 at a depth of 2,700 metres about 24 kilometres off the southern coast of Maspalomas,

"It is at a greater depth than we had expected," she told the press last Wednesday, adding that the trawler is still losing fuel.  

A report on Saturday said World Wildlife Fund (WWF) activists had now spotted multiple lines of fuel oil heading towards beaches on the island of Tenerife.

"The Canary Islands government has contacted the central government to try to ascertain if the fuel spotted is from the Oleg Naydenov, but it almost certainly is," said WWF coordinator Beatriz Ayala.

"It fits with the latest oceanographic models and the change in winds towards the north-west."

The island of La Gomera was also said to now be threatened by the spill.

Greenpeace says the vessel sank in a region with a significant population of dolphins and turtles.

The environmental group blames Spanish authorities for towing the trawler out to sea after it caught fire on April 11 when moored at Las Palmas port on Gran Canaria.

The group says although the trawler was carrying 50 times less fuel than the Prestige oil tanker that sank off Spain's northwestern coast in 2002, it can still cause environmental damage.

Greenpeace is calling for damaged ships to be dealt with in ports or bays, where any spills can be more easily contained.

The crew of the Oleg Neydenov, all of whom had been evacuated from the vessel when it caught fire, had been accused last year of fishing illegally in Senegalese waters.

Its Murmansk-based owners paid $950,000 to have the vessel returned after being seized and towed to the Guinea Bissau border.

Last week Ship & Bunker reported that Greenpeace had called on the Spanish Government to extract bunkers from the sunken Oleg Naydenov.