According to Morgunblaðið, oil is leaking from the wreckage of the British tanker El Grillo, lying at the bottom of the Seyðisfjörður fjord in eastern Iceland.
“This is the largest human-caused environmental accident in Iceland’s history,” says Hlynur Vestmar Oddsson, a canoeing tour guide from Seyðisfjörður who has monitored the spill in recent years. “The ship is so corroded that it has started to leak in more than one place.”
On February 10, 1944, during World War II, German planes attacked a ship in the fjord. There were no casualties, but the tanker suffered significant damage and was then sunk. It is therefore not surprising that a large-scale spill eventually occurred, as the ship could carry up to 9,000 tons of oil. In 1952, about 4.5 thousand people were pumped out of it. tons of oil.
The process was repeated in 2001, but some oil remained in the wreckage. On warm days, an oil stain forms on the surface of the ocean. Crude oil thickens at low temperatures, while at higher temperatures it seeps through the holes faster and rises to the surface, threatening the life of the birds.
The wreck is 150 m long and weighs over 7,000 tons. It is located at a depth of 45 m.
An inspection of the wreckage carried out in the fall of 2019 showed that the source of the leak was a corroded hatch cover leading to one of the ship’s 36 tanks. Last summer, the Icelandic Coast Guard poured concrete into the opening at the top of the hatch to close it.
Icelandic Coast Guard divers will begin an inspection of the wreckage to determine the extent of the spill and assess how it can be contained.
Sigurður Ásgrímsson, head of the Coast Guard Special Operations, speculates that the landslides that hit Seyðisfjörður last December may have contributed to the problem by triggering a tidal wave.
Rúnar Gunnarsson, the port security officer, says the only solution to the problem would be to remove the wreckage. He adds that it is unclear who would be responsible – British or Icelandic authorities.
An assessment is currently underway for fish farming in the Seyðisfjörður fjord. Rúnar believes the oil spill is likely to have an impact on these plans.