A severe storm in the Black Sea snapped a Russian oil tanker in half near Ukraine and sank four freighters, three carrying sulfur leading to so much pollution that one Russian official was quoted in the Irish Times saying it was an "environmental disaster."
The fuel oil and sulfur could take years to remedy, as heavy oil sinks to the bottom of the sea, officials told Russian television.
The area is a bird migration route for those species flying from Siberia to the Black Sea, and this is the peak migration for red-throated and black-throated Siberian divers, according to the Irish Times.
The ecosystem in this area has been degraded in the past by other spills and pollutants, and this latest spill will be a further setback, said Guillermo Castilleja, Program Director of WWF International, who noted first that the loss of life was the foremost concern.
The environmental group has called for increased safety measures on oil tankers, such as requiring double hulled ships that might contain some spills. Those rules were developed in the United States after the Exxon Valdez spill in the late 1980s. The group also recommended developing a coordinated agency to both respond to spills and take action to prevent spills by, for instance, ordering ships into safe harbor when bad weather is forecast.
The accident is a natural consequence of the situation when ships constructed for rivers sail in the sea," Alexey Knizhnikov, head of WWF-Russias oil and gas program, said. "In the Strait of Kerch, river vessels and sea vessels change cargoes, as sea vessels cannot enter the Don and Volga rivers because of small water draft. But vessels constructed for rivers cannot stand strong sea storms."
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.