Swedish authorities battle to stabilise stricken ferry leaking oil into Baltic Sea | Sweden
A ferry that ran aground off south-eastern Sweden had “extensive damage” and was leaking oil into the Baltic Sea, a spokesman for the Swedish coast guard said.
On 22 October the Marco Polo was running between two Swedish ports – Trelleborg and Karlshamn – when it ran aground near Horvik and started leaking. It continued under its own power before grounding a second time.
The 75 people onboard, both passengers and crew, were evacuated. The ferry, operated by TT-Line of Germany, took on water but was not at risk of sinking.
The groundings released a slick of fuel that reached the shores near Solvesborg, 110km (68 miles) north-east of Malmö, Sweden’s third-largest city. Swedish media carried photos of birds partly covered in oil.
Swedish prosecutors handed down fines to the captain and an officer who was in charge at the time of the grounding, saying they acted recklessly by relying on a faulty GPS.
Initially the plan was to pump out the remaining oil from the ferry. That plan was thwarted on Sunday when the ferry slipped off its grounding because of severe weather, the Swedish coast guard and the TT-Line company said. It drifted further out, got stuck for a third time and leaked more oil.
The latest movement “did not damage the previously unbreached oil tanks”, TT-Line said. “We are aware of the impact the incident has caused and we are taking the case very seriously.”
Swedish authorities – including the civil protection agency – sent planes, drones, ships and people to the site. Two tugboats were sent to stabilise the ferry. On Monday, authorities said they were increasing the resources allocated, with several ships and more staff, after further oil spills were discovered.
“Our first priority is to limit the release from the accident and prevent further releases,” said Tobias Bogholt, of the Swedish coast guard. He could not say how much oil was spilled after the third grounding.
Valdemar Lindekrantz, also from the coast guard, told Swedish news agency TT that there was “a larger amount of oil in the water after the new grounding. It is very serious.”
About 25 cubic metres of oil and oil waste had been removed by Monday. Authorities said the spill stretched over 5km (three miles) out to sea.