A fuel spill about 10 kilometers (6.21 miles) long and a kilometer wide was located Wednesday in the sinking area of the Grande America, the Atlantic Maritime Prefecture said in a press release.
Grande America, which sank to a depth of 4,600 meters Tuesday about 200 miles west of La Rochelle after it caught fire Sunday night in the Bay of Biscay, was carrying about 2,200 tons of heavy fuel oil before it sank, France’s Minister of Ecology Francois de Rugy reportedly told BFM television Thursday. A French cleanup ship was expected in the area Thursday, according to the prefecture, and de Rugy said France will deploy four pollution-control dedicated ships.
“According to our forecasts, fragments could reach certain areas of the coasts of Nouvelle-Aquitaine by Sunday or Monday because of particularly unfavorable weather, which also risks making more delicate the operations of depollution at sea,” de Rugy said, according to a translation from the website Ouest France.
In a press release Thursday, shipowner Grimaldi Group said it has dispatched an anchor handling supply vessel to monitor the Grande America’s fuel spill and organize the recovery of any floating containers.
Grimaldi Group also has a team of marine casualty and pollution prevention experts in Brest to monitor the environmental situation and advise any further measures, which would be in coordination with the French authorities. The shipowner also will undertake a submarine survey of the wreck by means of the vessel Pourquoi Pas, which is equipped with a remotely operated vessel.
Grande America was en route from Hamburg to Casablanca when the fire started Sunday night. All 27 people onboard abandoned ship in the early hours Monday and were rescued by Royal Navy frigate HMS Argyll.