Paraffin spill pollutes Baltic beaches

DDP/The Local
DDP/The Local - [email protected] • 3 Jun, 2010 Updated Thu 3 Jun 2010 12:29 CEST
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Clean-up crews are taking to beaches in the state of Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania to remove clumps of paraffin that leaked into the Baltic Sea from an unknown source, German maritime authorities said on Thursday.

Beaches on the islands of Usedom, Greifswalder Oie, and Rügen have all been polluted with clumps of the waxy substance, a spokeswoman from the Central Command for Maritime Emergencies said from their headquarters in Cuxhaven.

Reports of a spill first came in some two weeks ago, when a fishery inspection boat discovered a 22-kilometre cluster of waxy clumps near Rügen, Germany’s largest island.

After the initial report, the THW civil emergency agency was called in to clean up a nine-kilometre stretch of Rügen beach of some 100 cubic metres of paraffin.

Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania coast guard laboratory tests have shown that the paraffin on all the beaches came from the same source – but the origin remains unclear.

Investigators initially linked the spill to a Norwegian tanker that had travelled through the area, but the coast guard has since ruled this out.

Later on Thursday the Central Command for Maritime Emergencies plans to send out reconnaissance aircraft to determine the size and breadth of the spill.

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