Monday, November 12, 2007

Black Sea Oil Spill: Ukraine's Yanukovich Intervenes for Environmentalists

On November 11, 2007, the Volgoneft-132, a small Russian tanker, broke up and spilled between 1,300 and 2,000 tons of oil.

The result is that Russia's Black Sea coast could face an ecological catastrophe.
Three seamen were drowned.

A search was under way for five others missing, though hopes of finding them alive were dwindling.

The spilled fuel oil coated birds in a thick black sludge along a vast expanse of coastline in the northern mouth of the Black Sea, near Russia's border with Ukraine.

Sunday’s storm sank the tanker and at least four freighters while crippling other vessels in the narrow Kerch Strait between the Black Sea and Azov Sea.

On Monday, rescuers found the bodies of three of the sailors missing since the storm. Helicopters and rescue vessels continued to search for the five seaman still missing, but with a new storm on its way later in the week, officials said hopes of finding them alive were dwindling.

Environmentalists, backed by Ukraine's Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, said the incident raised questions about safety standards for shipping in the region. This incident has the potential to exacerbate Russian-Ukrainian relations, which often become difficult as winter approaches.

Russian officials said the captains of several vessels had put to sea despite storm warnings. The tanker that was the source of the spill was built in the 1970s, and was not designed for heavy seas.
At Novorossiisk, Russia's No. 2 port for exports of oil and oil products, officials had ordered tankers not to dock because a new storm was on its way later in the week.

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