Cold Water Prevents Serious Bunker Spill
The container ship Victoria went aground northeast of Fyns Hoved, Jutland on Friday, putting an eight inch wide by 150 foot long gash in her hull. The damage included penetration of a fuel tank containing roughly 25,000 gallons of HFO, which would typically be expected to result in a serious spill. However, the Victoria and her crew were in luck, at least in one respect: the cold winter waters of the Baltic Sea quickly solidified her bunker fuel, putting a stop to the leak.
"What we can say right now is that the large hole in the tank is in a good place," said Jesper Sørensen, team leader at Denmark's Defence Operation Centre, speaking to Metroxpress News. "When [HFO] reaches a certain temperature, it solidifies. So when the water is four degrees [Celcius], the oil's consistency is almost like asphalt. This means that it does not come out of the tank now."
The authorities say that the pollution from the incident is at a manageable level so far, though they have not yet fully quantified the amount of oil that was released before solidified fuel plugged up the hole.
Sørensen added that petroleum has been found on the coasts nearby, and it is believed to be from the Victoria's tanks. Local news outlet Fyens.dk reports that at least 100 birds have been affected by the spill: in an interview, Peter Pelle Clausen of the Danish Ornithological Society said that the oiled seabirds would not likely survive in the cold weather and would have to be euthanized. "We should limit the suffering that they have - you cannot save them," said Lars Erlandsen Brun, a wildlife consultant for the Danish Nature Agency. "There are some places in the world that wash birds, but we have a general decision in Denmark that we do not."