Welsh coast under risk after 1,000 tonnes of oil spilt by Russian aircraft carrier

Coastguards began to prepare for a potentially major cleanup effort today after a Russian aircraft carrier spilt an estimated 1,000 tonnes of oil off the southern Irish coast.

The spill, which happened as the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier (pictured above) was refuelling at sea, caused a slick that is now more than three miles long and almost as wide.

It is the largest amount of oil to be spilled near the British Isles since the Sea Empress ran aground off Milford Haven in 1996, causing widespread damage to the Pembrokeshire coast.

This latest spill was spotted by a European Maritime Safety Agency Satellite. Subsequent surveillance flights by the MCA calculated that about 1,000 tonnes of oil were spilt.

Russian authorities put the figure at 300 tonnes, but have yet to admit their role.

The slick is apparently breaking up, leading to relief among environmental groups, but fears remain that some of the oil will wash up on the Welsh and Irish coasts.

Mark Clark, of the MCA, told The Times: “It’s a significant oil spill and it could impact on the Irish south east coast or the Welsh coastline.”

He estimated that the slick will enter British waters early next week and that it could start washing ashore in Wales in two to three weeks.

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