Spain complains to Britain about oil spill off Gibraltar

11th February 2008, Comments 0 comments

The Spanish government has called the British ambassador to Madrid to consult about an oil spill off Gibraltar that has polluted Spanish beaches.

11 February 2008

ALGECIRAS - The Spanish government has called the British ambassador to Madrid to consult about an oil spill off Gibraltar that has polluted Spanish beaches, Environment Minister Cristina Narbona said Monday in the southern city of Seville.

Spanish regional politicians had accused Gibraltar of not taking appropriate action to remove the wreck of the Panama-flagged MS New Flame, a freighter with a cargo of scrap metal, which sank partly off Gibraltar after colliding with an oil tanker last mid-August.

On Saturday, the ship sank further in stormy weather. Spanish reports said fuel leaking from the wreck had polluted several kilometres of coast, while Gibraltar described the spill as "small."

Narbona said the government had called the ambassador for consultations in relation with the action of the Gibraltar government after the collision.

The Gibraltar authorities had told Spain they would assume their responsibilities after more oil leaked from the wreck over the weekend, Narbona said.

She added Spain was seeking a monitoring and control mechanism, operated by Spain, Britain and Gibraltar, to prevent such accidents.

Spanish cleaners Monday removed oil sludge from about half a kilometre of coast in the Algeciras area.

Andalusian regional premier Manuel Chaves said the regional authorities would report Gibraltar to the European Union, and take legal action against the owner and insurance company of the New Flame.

The problem should have been solved much faster, Chaves complained, admitting that the environmental damage caused by the oil spill was insignificant.

Spain has claimed Gibraltar, an enclave of 6.8 kilometres and 30,000 residents, since it was handed to Britain by the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht.

[Copyright dpa 2008]

Subject: Spanish news

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