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Last Updated: Monday, 4 September 2006, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
Spain hit by highly toxic spill
Dead fish in the Umia River on 2 September 2006
The spill is killing fish and plants in its path
Officials in north-western Spain are struggling to contain a highly toxic chemical river spill heading towards the Atlantic Ocean.

The discharge into the Umia River was caused by a fire at a chemical plant in the Galicia region late last week.

The three-kilometre (1.9 mile) long spill is slowly moving down the river, killing fish and plants in its path.

The water supply to some 80,000 people has been cut off, and shell fishing areas have been closed as a precaution.

The turquoise-coloured petroleum pollutant could reach the Atlantic Ocean in two days, officials in Galicia estimate.

map

They are building a series of dams to try to stop the spill.

The cause of the fire at the chemical plant is still being investigated.

The spill is a further blow to Galicia, which has been ravaged by forest fires in recent weeks.

At least 86,000 hectares (212,000 acres) of Galicia's forests have been destroyed by the fires this year, many of which were started deliberately.

The region was devastated by a vast oil slick caused when the Prestige oil tanker sank in 2002.


SEE ALSO
In pictures: Spanish fires
13 Aug 06 |  In Pictures
Spain 'worsened tanker tragedy'
13 Nov 03 |  Europe
Spanish oil spill 'not over yet'
06 Nov 03 |  Science/Nature
Oil spill: The consequences for wildlife
19 Nov 02 |  Science/Nature
Country profile: Spain
03 Jul 06 |  Country profiles

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