A ship carrying 52 tons of oil in the Baltic Sea ran aground off Stockholms sprawling archipelago Wednesday morning and began leaking its cargo into the intricate network of islands and inlets, an online news agency reported.
The ships crew was working to transfer the oil from the container damaged by the grounding into an intact reservoir on the vessel, the Local English-language agency reported.
Neither the ships name nor country of registry were immediately reported.
Although 52 tons of oil is a relatively small cargo, equal to about 370 barrels, even a minor spill in the archipelago, which is a popular playground for boaters and campers in the area east of the Swedish capital, could inflict significant damage to the pristine environment.
The 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker spill in Alaskas Prince William Sound gushed more than 250,000 barrels into the sensitive aquatic environment, and the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico four years ago spilled 560,000 barrels.
“It is too early to know how much damage has been done in the area,” Jonny Aaberg from the Swedish Coast Guard told the Local.
Aaberg said high winds and waves were hampering the efforts to contain the spill.
Two environmental protection vessels were dispatched to the spill area after the coast guard received a distress signal around 5 a.m., the Local reported. Aerial surveillance of the accident site was also being conducted, the agency said.
Stockholms archipelago of 30,000 islands and peninsulas was in the news earlier this month when a mysterious vessel thought to be a Russian submarine was spotted in the area, triggering a massive sea and air hunt on a scale unseen since the Cold War ended. The search for an intruder was called off on Friday after authorities concluded the vessel had left Swedish waters.
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Ship runs aground near Stockholm, spilling oil among pristine islands