Belgian authorities are monitoring a new
North Sea oil slick believed to be from the sunken cargo ship Tricolor.
The Tricolor sank in the English Channel last year
The governor of west Flanders, Paul Breyne, said after a crisis meeting that the 30-kilometre-long (19 miles) slick
contained about 80 to 100 tons (about 23,500 to 30,000
gallons) of oil, which probably leaked from the
Norwegian-flagged ship in recent days during the ongoing
Mr Breyne told Belgian media that two ships and a reconnaissance
aircraft were monitoring the slick, but that there was no
immediate danger to the Belgian coast.
Belgian and Dutch salvage firms have been cutting up the 190-metre-long ship which sank in the English Channel last year after it collided with another ship at the eastern end of the English Channel.
But the carve-up and removal operation has been repeatedly delayed due to bad weather conditions.
The 20,000-ton ship was carrying a cargo of luxury cars when it sank after colliding with the container ship Kariba, and has been a major obstacle to shipping in the Channel ever since.
Earlier, French officials said the pollution was sighted in
Belgian waters, north of the French town of
Dunkirk, and was being blown towards Dutch waters, AFP news agency reports.
Fuel samples have been taken for analysis, but officials say "the pollution probably came from the Tricolor... considering that traces of oil were discovered near the wreck on Friday and Saturday".
Salvage experts have succeeded in pumping around
1,400 tons of fuel from the Tricolor, but the operation was called off in January following an accident as a result of which some 540 tons leaked into the water.
About 10 tons (3,000 gallons) of fuel leaked from the
wreck and onto Belgian and Dutch beaches last winter.