Erika pumping operation almost complete

Risk of major pollution "put aside" as Totalfina prepares to pump last 2-5% by end of September

The main operation to pump oil from the two halves of the oil tanker Erika which sank off the west coast of France at the end of last year has been concluded, according to owners of the oil Totalfina and the French maritime authority in Brest. Both the maritime authority and the French oil company say that the risk of further major pollution from the Erika is now very slight. However, the French transport ministry has said that "the complete clean-up of the Erika will take several more weeks".

Nine months after the accident, a total of 10,080 tonnes of heavy fuel oil has been recovered from the front and rear sections of the hull at the expense of the French oil company. A Totalfina spokesperson told ENDS Daily that the first phase of the pumping operation, which removed 95-98% of the oil, was concluded on Sunday, three weeks ahead of schedule. "This has put any risk of a major oil pollution aside," he said. The second phase is scheduled to finish at the end of September and involves pumping the 2-5% of oil left in the wreck after using a biodegradable solvent to make the oil easy to pump, the spokesperson added.

The Erika ran onto rocks off the Brittany coast on 12 December (ENDS Daily 7 January) spilling some 12,000-15,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil and triggering a review of European maritime safety.

Follow Up:
Totalfina, +33 1 41 35 40 00. The website contains specific coverage of the Erika.

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