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The BBC correspondent Chris Morris reports:
"Environmentalists say recovery could take many years"
 real 28k

Chris Morris reports from Ankara
"Hundreds of tonnes of oil have leaked into the water"
 real 28k

The BBC's Chris Morris
"Residents want tougher controls on tanker traffic"
 real 28k

Thursday, 30 December, 1999, 22:54 GMT
Turkey starts oil clean-up

destroyed cafe Seaside cafes have been destroyed by the oil slick

Turkish environmentalists have warned that it could take 40 years to clear the residue of an oil spill from the Russian tanker which broke in two near Istanbul.

Hundreds of tonnes of oil have already washed ashore, blackening an approximately 10km (6 mile) stretch of coastline.

oily doll The pollution has devastated stretches of coastline
"There is huge pollution of dangerous proportions" said Aziz Duman, a member of the non-governmental group Clean Sea.

Environmental engineers said the shore would have to be declared off limits until the oil was cleaned - a difficult task due to its thick and sticky nature.

A few volunteers have started trying to clean the oil-coated seagulls.

Serpil Akin, an environmental engineer, predicts that cleaning the sea bed of fuel sediment could take 40 years, and warns that fish and mussels from the area are now unfit to eat.


"This is a natural disaster" said Hucum Tulgar, head of the coastal safety administration. "It will take a long time to clean up."

The Volgoneft 248 ran aground after being battered by heavy seas while at anchor in the Marmara Sea.

The bow broke off and sank, but the body of the vessel remains upright, stuck in sand near Bakirkoy on the European side of Istanbul and only 100 meters from shore.

Most of the 18 crew members have been rescued. Some chose to remain on board.

Weather hampers clean-up

The vessel was carrying more than 4,300 tonnes in four containers, only one of which broke apart and emptied.

But Greenpeace activist Tolga Temuge, who visited the site, said that there was risk that two other containers could still crack.

Efforts to erect barriers around the wreck to control the spillage were abandoned late on Wednesday because strong winds kept ripping them apart, according to a Turkish maritime official.

A clean-up ship could not reach the site because of the rough seas.

The Russian Transport Ministry said about 900 tonnes of fuel had spilled from the tanker.

Turkish officials have fined the ship's owners $36,000 for contaminating the sea, after describing the spillage "not a big accident".

Bosphorus debate

The privately-owned ship broke up near after passing through the Bosphorus - the narrow waterway which runs through Istanbul.

Oily sludge has coated some coastal roads Oily sludge has coated some coastal roads
The Turkish Government has long wanted to limit the number of oil tankers allowed through the Bosphorus - one of the world's busiest and most treacherous shipping lanes.

But Turkey's ability to control tanker traffic is limited, because the Bosphorus is an international waterway.

Two tankers and one container ship have already run aground off Istanbul this month.

Residents fear it is only a matter of time before a devastating maritime accident takes place.

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See also:
29 Dec 99 |  Europe
Troops join storm clear-up
08 Dec 99 |  Europe
Y2K bug to close sea lane

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