Pipeline leak causes oil spill in southern France

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French emergency units were dispatched Friday to contain an oil spill from a pipeline in farm fields west of the southeastern city of Marseille, officials said.

Marseille - French emergency units were dispatched Friday to contain an oil spill from a pipeline in farm fields west of the southeastern city of Marseille, officials said.

Some 3,000 cubic metres of oil spilled over two hectares (five acres) of agricultural land near Saint-Martin-de-Crau but officials said the area was far from residential areas and water sources.

Environment Minister Chantal Jouanno travelled to the site to see the damage and an investigation was opened to determine the causes of the leak.

The pipeline is managed by the South European Pipeline (SPSE) operator, which supplies crude to plants from Fos in southern France to Karlsruhe in Germany.

"It is too early to determine the cause" of the leak, said a spokeswoman for SPSE, adding that there had been regular maintenance on the pipeline.

The Bouches-du-Rhone local authorities said there was no reason to fear an impact on water supplies as the spill took place at least five kilometres (three miles) away from the nearest source.

SPSE said the leak was detected shortly before 8:00 am (0600 GMT) and measures were taken to shut down the pipeline. An emergency security plan was put into action.

The spokeswoman said the incident would not affect supplies to clients.

Cleanup operations were underway, using three pumps and officials said tests would follow to measure the extent of the pollution.

"There are no risks from this type of incident," notably of an explosion, said the SPSE spokeswoman.

The pipeline of 769 kilometres (477 miles) has a capacity of 23 million metric tons per year.

AFP / Expatica

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