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Hydrocarbon pollution along the coast of Galicia shot up five years after the Prestige oil spill
Date:11/22/2011

The results of a recent study by the University of Santiago de Compostela on Kentish Plover eggs has shown that there was a unexpected increase in hydrocarbon levels along the coast of Galicia five years after the Prestige oil spill. Worsened in previous years by works to remove the wreck, pollution levels began to rise again in the summer of 2006 along with numerous forest fires.

On 19th November 2002 the oil tanker Prestige sank off the coast of Galicia and spilled 63,000 tonnes of fuel oil into the sea, which reached coasts from the north of Portugal to France. The mass arrival of oil to the coast months after the accident was catastrophic.

A study by researchers at the University of Santiago de Compostela shows how progressively declining pollution levels experienced a surprising increase in 2007 due to "the wave of forest fires in Galicia in 2006," explains Jess Domnguez, co-author of the study.

He explains that "the badly-handled course that the ship took from north to south from the moment of the accident to its sinking increased pollution between 2004 and 2006. However, the dramatic increase of 2007 can only be attributed to the forest fires."

Data were obtained through a 4 year-long observation of the levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (50% of the fuel oil released by Prestige) in the eggs of the Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus), the only costal nesting bird on the beaches of Galicia's Atlantic Coast.

The data from before 2007 showed a progressive decline in pollution levels. Until then, figures did not exceed 120 micrograms per kilogram in any of the studied areas. Pollution levels between 2004 and 2006 are in keeping with the results obtained from the study of waters, sediment, and other marine organisms after the Prestige oil spill.

Surprisingly, an unexpected increase in pollution was recorded in 2007. According to Jess Domnguez, researcher at the University of Santiago de Compostela, this rise could have be
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Contact: Jesus Dominguez Conde
jesus.dominguez@usc.es
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology
Source:Eurekalert  

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Hydrocarbon pollution along the coast of Galicia shot up five years after the Prestige oil spill
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