Corsica spill threatens reserve

2013-09-02 20:15
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Ajaccio - A vast liquid hydrocarbons spill was spotted off the western coast of Corsica on Monday, sparking fears it could threaten a UN-listed nature reserve, French emergency services said.

The spill was probably the result of an uncontrolled discharge on a vessel and was 43km long and one kilometre wide, officials said. It was first spotted by a French customs helicopter.

It was seen about six nautical miles off the coast and was drifting away, but there were fears it could go towards the Scandola Nature Reserve, a Unesco-listed Heritage Site.

The reserve covers 2 000 acres on land and nearly 2 400 acres at sea. Its waters are incredibly rich in fish, while schools of dolphins can be found just a few dozen yards from shore.

The exact nature of the contents was not immediately clear, but preliminary information indicated that only 10 to 20% of the spill comprised heavy hydrocarbons, limiting the potential environmental impact.

Two naval tugs had left the southern port city of Toulon and the Corsican capital Ajaccio to help in clean-up operations. The coast off Corsica is rocky, making it difficult to take measures to contain the spill.

Read more on:    france  |  marine life  |  environment

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