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Favourable weather aids oil slick clean up

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Favourable weather aids oil slick clean up
11:48 CET+01:00
The Swedish and Norwegian coast guard continued work to clean up the oil spill caused by a grounded Icelandic vessel just north of the Swedish border on Thursday, reporting that weather conditions remained favourable.

Three Swedish Coast Guard (Kustbevakningen) ships are on site to assist in the clean up operation and are reported to have collected some 21 cubic metres of oil since the grounding of the Icelandic-owned container ship the Godaforss on Thursday night.

The oil leakage from the vessel has been arrested, according to the Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA), while the cause of the accident has been confirmed as faulty navigation while travelling at high speed.

The NCA said in a statement on Friday afternoon that the oil slick had reached the fragile shoreline in at least two places in the Ytre Hvaler marine park, home to a wide variety of sea birds, marine life and large cold-water coral reefs.

Late Friday afternoon, the NCA said however the spill was not as serious as

first feared.

After the grounding of the Godafoss, there were fears that the nearby Kosterhavet national marine park in Sweden could also be affected, but by Saturday morning these fears had not been realised.

The Godafoss, which contained a total of 800 tonnes of fuel, struck a rock on a well-indicated reef late Thursday near the mouth of the Oslo Fjord shortly after leaving port in the southeastern town of Fredrikstad for Helsingborg in southern Sweden.

A yet undetermined quantity of fuel leaked out from the middle of tanks lining both sides of the ship, each holding 250 tonnes.

Norwegian and Swedish authorities rushed out anti-pollution vessels, tugboats and two surveillance planes and helicopters to assess the situation.

Floating barriers were also set up around the ship to limit the damage.

Owned by Icelandic shipping firm Eimskip, the Godafoss was transporting 439 containers, including one filled with 12 tonnes of dynamite.

"As long as it has been loaded correctly and there is no fire, there is no risk of an explosion," NCA operation chief Johan Marius Ly told reporters on Friday.

Environmental groups have expressed concern over the leak, stressing that a lot was at stake.

According to the WWF, more than 6,000 marine species live in the area, including 220 on Norwegian and Swedish lists of endangered species.

"WWF is asking the authorities to ban all maritime traffic in the most vulnerable zones, that oil be banned as fuel and that this influences decisions concerning oil production in fragile regions," the group said in a statement.

The Ytre Hvaler park, which was created in June 2009 and stretches across 354 square kilometres (137 square miles), is Norway's only marine natural reserve and is located not far from the Swedish Kosterhavet marine national park, which stretches across 389 square kilometres.

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