Oil washes ashore in northern Portugal
Patches of oil have washed ashore along a 4-km stretch of coast in northern Portugal, maritime authorities said. The
pollution was first detected near Esposende, a fishing town 350 km north of Lisbon, and samples of the oil are
undergoing tests to determine if they are from the Prestige tanker which sank off nearby Spain seven weeks ago, the
Portuguese navy said.
If tests confirm the pollution comes from the Prestige, it will be the first time that fall-out from the ecological disaster has reached Portuguese shores. Crews began removing the palm-sized oil patches -- no bigger than 10 cm in diameter -- from the beach and expect to have the clean-up job completed.
Much of Spain's north-western Galicia region and now parts of France's Atlantic coast have already been sullied by
the heavy fuel oil, which began spreading toward the coast after the Liberian-registered tanker broke up and sank 270
km off Spain's coast on November 19.
Since then, favourable winds have ensured that oil pollution seeping from the Prestige has been blown northwards, to Galicia's fishing and tourism-dependent region, and beyond. The tanker is estimated to have spilled some 20,000 tons of oil before sinking and has since been leaking fuel oil into the surrounding water.