French Still Battling Oil Slick

Monday, January 03, 2000
A new wave of heavy fuel oil from a sunken tanker washed onto France's storm-battered western coast on Sunday, this time hitting the shores of Ile de Re, a jagged point below the northwestern peninsula of Brittany, whose sandy beaches and rocky inlets are a haven for seabirds - and tourists in summertime. More than 13,000 birds have so far been contaminated by the slick which hit the coast on Christmas eve, almost two weeks after the Maltese-registered Erika broke up in storms with 25,000 tons of oil aboard on Dec. 12. Over the weekend, the French League for the Protection of Birds reported the first seal snared by oil on a beach near Lorient. French oil company TotalFina, which chartered the Erika, has argued it is not liable for the spill, but late last week offered $6.1 million to help with the clean-up efforts. The money is supposed to go towards pumping some 15,000 tons of oil still believed to be inside the two sections of the vessel that have been lying on the seafloor since mid-December.

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