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Tanker Spills Fuel After Suez Canal Accident

The Suez Canal is Egypt's third largest source of revenue and lost income is estimated at seven million dollars for each day of closure.
by Staff Writers
Ismailiya, Egypt (AFP) Feb 27, 2006
A Liberian-flagged tanker lost 3,000 tons of heavy fuel in the Suez Canal on Monday after a collision with a quay caused a leak, an official at the canal authority told AFP. The Grigoroussa 1, which was headed south from the Mediterranean, suffered a technical failure and drifted before hitting a quay on the canal's western bank, the source said on condition of anonymity.

Approximately 3,000 of the 58,000 tons of heavy fuel the tanker was carrying toward the Red Sea leaked into canal waters.

Tug boats pulled the tanker in order not to block traffic while an environment ministry taskforce started work to contain the slick, the official added.

Environment Minister Maged George told the official MENA news agency that the rest of the fuel was pumped out of the stranded tanker and added that a special unit was set up at the ministry to monitor the impact of the spill on the environment.

Suez Canal Authority chairman Mahmud Abdel Wahab confirmed that traffic was not interrupted.

The Grigoroussa 1 is owned by Greek company AK Shipping and Trading Inc and has a capacity of 97,000 tons.

A spokesman for the environmental watchdog Greenpeace questioned the safety of the tanker.

"As far as we are concerned, it can legally be considered as scrap," Martin Besieux told AFP, adding that the tanker had double sides but a single-hull bottom.

But an official from the Greek company said on condition of anonymity that the ship was "in good condition" and stressed there had been no decision to send it for scrapping.

He refused to reveal the ship's destination.

The Suez Canal is Egypt's third largest source of revenue and lost income is estimated at seven million dollars for each day of closure.

Income soared to a record 3.4 billion dollars in 2005 on the back of growing global trade, notably with Asian giants China and India.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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