Russian Oil Tanker Spills 2000 Tons of Fuel

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A Russian oil tanker broke in two in the Black Sea during severe storms Sunday.

The tanker, Volganeft-139, was traveling from Azoz in southern Russia to Kerch in the Ukraine when it was broken in two by high waves. The tanker was designed primarily for river work, and was carrying around 4,000 tons of fuel oil in total.

A Russian official called the resulting oil spill an “environmental disaster.” A state-run news channel reported that around 2,000 tons of fuel oil was spilt, but Viktor Beltsov of the Emergency Ministry said that no more than 1,200 tons of fuel was spilled.

The broken stern portion of the ship harbored 13 crew members drifting in the sea. Several other ships were also experiencing trouble in the rough seas. Efforts to save the crew were made more difficult by the storms.

Oleg Mitvol, deputy head of Rosprirodnadzor, Russia’s environmental agency, said: “This problem may take a few years to solve. Fuel oil is a heavy substance and it is now sinking to the seabed. This is a very serious environmental disaster.”

The effect of the oil spill is not yet clear. To make matters worse, another tanker sank carrying 2000 tons of sulphur. Another tanker’s hull cracked but was not leaking.

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