Clean-up vessels have completed pumping oil from the sunken tanker Erika off France's Atlantic coast, the French Transport Ministry said on Tuesday. "Today, risks of pollution linked to the sunken ship Erika
have been eliminated," the ministry said in a statement. It added that TotalFinaElf, the oil giant that chartered the tanker and was in charge of the pumping, had recovered a total 11,235 tons of heavy fuel oil from the ship since the beginning of the operation on July 3. The Maltese-registered Erika broke in half in stormy seas on December 12, 1999, and spewed up to 15,000 tons of oil onto the rocky shoreline. The two sections of the ship lie about 70 km (40 miles) offshore.
The pollution triggered an outcry, and hordes of volunteers flocked to the coast for a bucket-and-spade clean-up which left most of the beaches largely tar-free, but residual fuel remained on some rocky areas as the peak tourism season began.