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The BBC's Raphael Jesurum
"German officials have predicted serious environmental damage to the Danish coast"
 real 56k

Thursday, 29 March, 2001, 23:29 GMT 00:29 UK
Denmark struggles to contain slick
Baltic Carrier
Nearly 2,000 tonnes leaked from the tanker
Coastguard and environmental protection ships from Denmark, Sweden and Germany are trying to contain several oil slicks which are threatening the Danish coast.

The spill came after a tanker, the Baltic Carrier, was in collision with a freighter anchored off the port of Rostock in northern Germany.


We will do all what we can to avoid a disaster

Danish Environment Minister Svend Auken
The work of the emergency teams is being hampered by bad weather and the fact that the heavy heating oil is suspended just below the sea's surface.

Floating barriers are being used to try to keep the pollution from the coastline.

A Danish coastguard spokesman told the Ritzau news agency that he was optimistic the oil could be contained.

But already some oil has reached the island of Falster.

Gaping hole

Nearly 2,000 of the 30,000 tonnes of oil on board leaked from the tanker, which was en route from Estonia to Gothenburg in Sweden when the accident happened on Wednesday night.

The collision ripped a 20-metre wide hole in one of the tanks of the double-hulled vessel, although German officials on Thursday said oil was no longer leaking from the tanker.


The accident occurred in the sea lane between the north German coast and the Danish island of Falster.

The cause of the accident is still not clear.

Four Danish ships with oil containment equipment as well as coastguard vessels from Germany and Sweden have been trying to contain the slick.

The World Wide Fund for Nature warned that the slick threatened more than 10,000 migratory ducks in the area.

"We will do all what we can to avoid a disaster," Danish Environment Minister Svend Auken told reporters.

The remaining oil in the damaged compartment has been pumped into undamaged parts of the tanker, according to German coastguards.

German officials said the Marshall Islands-registered tanker was at anchor and in no danger of sinking.

Lucky

The freighter, the Cypriot-flagged Tern, is also still seaworthy. It was carrying a cargo of sugar from Cuba to Latvia.

The area last experienced a serious oil spill in 1985, when about 300 tonnes of oil reached the shores of Laesoe island, halfway between the peninsula of Jutland and western Sweden.

Up to 160,000 ships pass through this part of the Baltic Sea every year.

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