Russian trawler Oleg Naydenov catches fire at a Canary Islands port as it prepares to set sail. It is towed out to sea to control the fire, and then sinks to a depth of around 2,400 meters—with a tank full of fuel. Spain is now under fire from Greenpeace for its handling of the situation, and fears are rising of a spill that could damage the area’s tourist sites and beaches, and waters that are home to deep-sea coral, dolphins and turtles.
Kemplon Engineering takes a closer look at this developing news.
The burning Oleg Naydenov was towed offshore out of fears that the vessel might sink under the weight of the water used in the attempts to quell the fire; that it could damage desalination plants that provide drinking water; and out of fears the fuel tanks might explode. It is said to have been carrying over 1,400 tonnes of fuel oil when it sank, 15 miles away from Gran Canaria islands.
Following the incident, the Spanish authorities’ response included deploying coast guard to deal with a 3.7-mile oil slick near the beaches; tugboats and aircraft to control the leak; and an investigation into the case. They are also deploying robots or unmanned vessels that could dive to and inspect the wreck for leaks.
Environmental group Greenpeace, however, is criticizing the move to tow the burning vessel out to sea in the first place, and is demanding plans on how to extract oil from the sunken ship, which poses a threat to the environment.
This is not the first time Spain has been criticized for its response to an environmental disaster. In 2002, it towed leaking oil tanker Prestige away from ports. The ship would eventually break and spill over 23,000 tons of heavy oil, with far-flung effects that would reach even beaches in France and Portugal.
^ “Greenpeace Critical of Spain’s Spill Response.” The Maritime Executive, 16 Apr 2015. Web. 26 Apr 2015. http://www.maritime-executive.com/article/greenpeace-critical-of-spains-spill-response
^ Kassam, Ashifa. “Oil spill reaches coast of Gran Canaria.” The Guardian, 24 Apr 2015. Web. 26 Apr 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/24/spanish-fuel-oil-spill-russian-oleg-naydenov-gran-canaria
^ “Russian Trawler Sinks Off Spain’s Northwestern Coast.” The Maritime Executive, 15 Apr 2015. Web. 26 Apr 2015. http://www.maritime-executive.com/article/russian-trawler-sinks-off-spains-northwestern-coast
^ “Spain criticised for dragging burning ship out to sea.” The Guardian, 16 Apr 2015. Web. 26 Apr 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/16/spain-burning-ship-greenpeace-oil
^ “Spain Criticized for Towing Burning Trawler to Open Seas.” World Maritime News, 17 Apr 2015. Web. 26 Apr 2015. http://worldmaritimenews.com/archives/158134/spain-critcized-for-towing-burning-trawler-to-open-seas/
^ “Spain Investigates Sinking off Canary Islands.” MarineLink.com, 16 Apr 2015. Web. 26 Apr 2015. http://www.marinelink.com/news/investigates-sinking389470.aspx
^ “Spain to send sub to check sunken boat that is releasing oil.” Yahoo! News, 18 Apr 2015. Web. 26 Apr 2015. http://news.yahoo.com/spain-send-sub-check-sunken-boat-releasing-oil-164712730.html
^ “Spanish Government Releases First Images Of Wreck Of Oleg Naydenov At A Depth Of 2,700 Metres.” The Spain Report, 23 Apr 2015. Web. 26 Apr 2015. https://www.thespainreport.com/16182/spanish-government-releases-first-images-of-wreck-of-oleg-naydenov-at-a-depth-of-2700-metres/