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Oil spill threatens Irish and Welsh coast news
18 February 2009

An oil slick covering 2.8 miles by 3 miles, believed to have been spilt by Russian warships in the Celtic sea while refueling 50 miles off the southern coast of Ireland, may pose a threat to the the Irish and Welsh coast, endangering marine life in the area.

Irish coastguards have downgraded the quantity of the spill from 1,000 tonnes of crude oil to nearly half the amount, at 522 tonnes, presumed to have been caused by Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, which was in the vicinity of the oil spill.

Satellite imagery showed the presence of an aircraft carrier along with a refuelling ship and a tugboat, all belonging to the Russian navy in close proximity to the oil spill, which was confirmed by British and Irish maritime authorities, who conducted an aerial survey of the oil spill.

Four other Russian navy ships were also in the outer area along with a British destroyer, a tanker and an Irish destroyer, the Irish maritime authorities said.

The Russian Navy confirmed that Russian warships had carried out refueling in the region, but ruled out that an emergency situation might have occurred for the ships to spill oil either when refueling or deliberately dumping oil into the sea, although it said it would conduct its own internal investigation into the oil spill.

The Russian navy also said that its experts were ready to share data and information to experts from other countries to identify the cause of the oil slick.

Meanwhile, to confirm whether the spill occurred from the Russian ships, the Irish authorities wants to test the oil from the spill as well as from the Russian ships and they have asked the Russian embassy in Dublin to give samples of the oils carried onboard the Russian aircraft carrier and the refueling ship.

Friends of the Earth has said that the spill will cause serious damage to marine life endangering the lives of seabirds, seals, dolphins and porpoises and has asked for a full investigation into the spill.

The slick at the moment is moving eastwards and has split into three different pools due to wind factor and could hit the Irish and Welsh coast in around 16 days according to the Irish coastguard.

According to models of the slick created on the computer by Irish coast guards, the slick is likely to evaporate with some dissolving in the sea water while the remaining residual oil will form into tar balls and float towards the shore.

The Irish coast guard will also try to recover as much oil from the spill at sea itself and is sending a tugboat to the site of the spill but with the oil spill breaking up due to wind, it will make their job more difficult, they said.

Experts say that either the British or the Irish authorities should have used spraying method within 12 hours of the spill, where most of the slick could have been cleared and contained.

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Oil spill threatens Irish and Welsh coast