LAS PALMAS DE GRAN CANARIA, Spain – Emergency workers were on standby Tuesday on Spain’s resort island of Gran Canaria after overnight efforts to control an oil spill that threatened a pristine environment proved only partially successful, officials said.
Some 5,000 liters (five tons) of fuel had leaked from a tanker ship in the port of Las Palmas on Monday, triggering a containment and mopping-up operation, although some of the slick dispersed to sea, said Jose Fernandez, the port’s deputy director.
“Since the leak until now, we have tried to suction up the spill and have used other extraction techniques to prevent it from reaching the coast,” Fernandez said.
He said that an oil storage company called Aegean Bunkering Fuels had detected the leak and cut off the supply quickly, but despite clean-up efforts, some oil escaped out to sea.
Fernandez denied the spill had reached the popular beach of Las Alcaravaneras because three barriers had been erected to prevent oil from hitting its fine sands.
Fernandez said the causes of this spill were to be investigated and, if there was negligence, it would be sanctioned.
But he also pointed out that the spill could have been caused by a simple accident.
“Fortunately, this type of situation is very rare in the Port of Las Palmas, which moves 2.5 billion liters a year, about 7 million liters a day,” he said.
The Canary Islands, volcanic specks of land in the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean southwest of the mainland, are among Spain’s most popular tourist destinations with sunshine and warm weather guaranteed even in the depth of Europe’s winter.