WWF-Adena call for stricter constrols in the Balearics for fear of oil spills

The Balearics is one of six high-risk oil spill areas in Spain, according to the Spanish “coasts of death” map issued by the World Wildlife Fund/Adena organisation yesterday. Adena, the Spanish branch of WWF has asked the International Maritime Organisation to officially declare the six zones “high risk areas” so that the necessary precautions can be taken. A recent study carried out by Adena in the wake of the disaster in Galicia has concluded that the Balearics is one of six areas at threat to a catastrophe similar to the Prestige. Adena also wants tankers carrying dangerous cargoes along shipping routes through Balearic waters and other high risk zones, to be constantly tracked by satellite. The director of Adena's marine programme, José Luis García, said yesterday that apart from Galicia and the Balearics, the other high-risk areas are the stretch of coast between Tarragona and Castellón, the Straits of Gibraltar and the Canary Islands. What is more, all of the areas are important fishing zones, but are dotted with oil rigs and refineries, port fuel depots and international routes for the transportation of crude oil. Garcia said yesterday that nearly 1000 petrol tankers “the majority in poor condition” pass along a stretch of just 21 miles of the coast of Galicia, with the five other high-risk zones having to cope with similar levels of dangerous traffic. He also warned that many of the tankers make the most of the lack of controls to empty their bilge tanks at sea, which is illegal. However, if the International Maritime Organisation approves WWF/Adena's application, extremely strict shipping controls will be enforced from the Balearics to the Canaries. A catastrophe just half the scale of the Prestige would spell disaster for the Balearics and the Canaries which rely on their beaches for tourism. Satellite tracking will enable the authorities to spot and act against tankers emptying their bilge and toxic waste at sea. “Toxic and fuel spills (caused by such illegal practice) are being picked up every day in the six target areas” Adena's secretary general, Juan Carlos del Olmo, said yesterday. Del Olmo said that the Prestige disaster has shown that adequate technical measures were not taken some ten years ago in response to the Aegean Sea spill and that Europe is facing an “environmental crisis” as a result. “We have to learn from this and make sure that it does not happen again, in Spain or anywhere else in Europe.”

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