Sinking of the “Great America”: an oil slick off the French coast

A slick of oil was located Wednesday in the sinking area of ​​the Italian ship “Grande America”, which was carrying dangerous goods and 2,200 tons of heavy fuel oil, causing fears of pollution of the French coast.
“During the flight this afternoon over the sinking area of ​​the Great America (…) a sheet of oil was located,” said Wednesday evening in a statement the Maritime Prefecture, stating that it stretched about ten kilometers long and one kilometer wide.

These aerial observations were confirmed by the BSNA ( VN Sapper Support and Assistance Building) , maintained on the sinking area where the sea is very strong with waves of 4 to 6 meters, according to the same source.

The Atlantic Maritime Prefect, Vice-Admiral Jean-Louis Lozier, ordered the departure of the BSAA Argonaute spill response ship from Brest . It is expected on Thursday morning area, said the maritime prefecture, indicating also sought the assistance of the means of pollution control of the European Agency for Maritime Safety (EMSA).

Auparavant, dans l’après-midi, le préfet maritime a annoncé lors d’une conférence de presse à Brest que le navire transportait «365 conteneurs, dont 45 répertoriés comme contenant des matières dangereuses et un peu plus de 2000 véhicules». Il a ajouté que les soutes du navire contenaient quelque 2200 tonnes de fioul lourd, principale source de préoccupation selon lui, estimant que la façade atlantique entre la Charente-Maritime et la Gironde risquait d’être touchée par une pollution «dans plusieurs jours».

The prefect again called on Wednesday morning the shipowner, Grimaldi Group, to “end the danger to navigation and the marine environment represented by containers and other elements adrift” and “to treat possible pollution maritime “. The shipowner will have to carry out investigations on the wreck to determine in what state it is and especially if its tanks are pierced.

“Car breakers”

The ship sunk Tuesday afternoon 333 kilometers west of the port of La Rochelle by 4600 meters, which may complicate any pumping operations.

He stated that he had received from the shipowner “a complete inventory” of the contents of the containers containing hazardous materials, including about 100 tonnes of hydrochloric acid and some 70 tonnes of sulfuric acid.

The possible pollution that could be caused by these products “would be very localized,” he assured. “Dilution in the ocean space would not have serious consequences for the environment,” he added, noting that many of these products had probably already burned.

The Grande America, a 214-meter hybrid ship between a ro-ro and a container ship, was coming from Hamburg (Germany) and was due to go to Casablanca (Morocco) when a fire broke out edge Sunday night, for a reason still unknown.

“For the moment, I have no idea why the fire broke out,” according to the maritime prefect, adding that he was informed about a fire in the garage and then a fire in a container. .

Robin des Bois Association intends to file a complaint for pollution and waste abandonment. “2000 vehicles, it is a car break at the bottom of the sea representing hundreds of tons of toxic materials in an area very rich in fish, plankton and marine mammals,” insurgent AFP Jacky Bonnemains, door the NGO’s office, saying it also fears possible coastal pollution.

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