Norwegian spill shows hazards of oil on ice | WWF

Norwegian spill shows hazards of oil on ice

Posted on 25 February 2011    
A WWF Norway staff member observes the tanker Godafoss, which has run aground just outside of Oslo, Norway
© WWF Norway
A cargo ship has run aground just outside of Oslo, Norway, spilling up to 500 tons of fuel oil into the fjord’s icy waters. While the ship ran aground last week, the extent of the damage is only now becoming apparent.

Norwegian authorities have attempted to contain the spill, but the presence of ice is complicating the efforts, and currents have spread the oil as much as 100 kilometres up the coast. Several hundred seabirds have been found covered in oil, and the spill threatens the Ytre Hvaler marine park.

A spokesperson for WWF says the accident supports WWF studies that show oil cannot be effectively cleaned up in ice covered waters.

“The difficulties of removing oil in icy waters show that navigation carrying heavy fuel oil in vulnerable areas needs to be stopped. The oil industry has to stop giving the impression that oil protection equipment can protect vulnerable resources in harsh weather,” says Rasmus Hansson, CEO of WWF-Norway.

WWF Norway’s trained volunteer force is standing by to help clean up the spill if asked by authorities.

Meanwhile, WWF is working with the International Maritime Organisation for the establishment of mandatory rules that will help avoid similar disasters in the future, by establishing rules for ships that operate in the ice.

After a push by WWF and other environmental organisations, the IMO has already announced a ban on ‘bunker’ oil as a fuel for ship operating in the Antarctic.

WWF is also opposing the development of new offshore oil projects, such as the joint BP/Rosneft plans to develop oil projects in the Kara Sea, until proponents can prove that they can effectively prevent or clean up any spills in icy waters.

For more information, contact:

Fritz Jakob Fredriksen
Senior adviser Arctic, Shipping & Petroleum, WWF-Norway
Tel: +47 22 03 65 00
Mobile: +47 99 52 49 43
E-mail: fjfredriksen@wwf.no

A WWF Norway staff member observes the tanker Godafoss, which has run aground just outside of Oslo, Norway
© WWF Norway Enlarge
The Godafoss oil tanker spill near Oslo, Norway, is threatening wildlife in the area.
© WWF Norway Enlarge

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