An oil slick from a cargo ship that crashed and sunk off the coast of Gibraltar earlier this week reached a Spanish beach on Friday.
Juan Franco, mayor of the Spanish city of La Linea, ordered the closure of the Poniente beach as cleanup gets underway.
“I’m not happy about the situation, but it seems like it’s under control,” he told local media.
Meanwhile, in neighboring Gibraltar, the government has closed two beaches and announced that the Mid Harbour Marina will also be shut down all weekend due to the contamination. The entire Gibraltar port also remains closed.
The cargo ship carrying more than 400 tons of oil and diesel collided with a liquefied natural gas tanker on Tuesday, causing it to sink in Gibraltar waters.
On Wednesday, the ship’s hull broke before the fuel was removed and lube oil began leaking out into the sea.
Although Gibraltar authorities had deployed booms to contain spillage, significant amounts of oil and lube escaped into open waters.
On Thursday, Gibraltar authorities reportedly arrested the captain of the cargo ship and also began work to drain the fuel still aboard the beached and broken ship.
The Gibraltar government said on Friday that most of the diesel on the ship has successfully been removed and the priority is now to remove the low sulfur fuel oil.
The amount of oil leaking from the vessel is significantly lower Friday than it was on Thursday, authorities said in a statement.
The oil spill in Gibraltar has again stirred up controversies surrounding the tiny British outpost on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula.
The mayor of the nearby Spanish city Algeciras criticized the lack of coordination between the UK territory and Spain.
“Their attitude of not letting anyone into the waters they say are theirs is negligent because the environmental damage affects everyone,” Jose Ignacio Landaluce said of Gibraltar authorities on Thursday.
He said the situation could have been remedied earlier had Gibraltar turned to Spain for immediate help.
The amount of oil released from the ship, which remains beached outside a Gibraltar bay, has not been reported. Gibraltar authorities said on Friday that they had removed 12 tons of oil and water from the on-site containment boom.