A FRESH group of volunteers from the Balearics will be setting off for Galicia today, to help clear up the catastrophic oil spill in Galicia. The 60-strong group is the fifth group of local volunteers to go to the area, under an agreement between the Balearic and Galician governments. They will be travelling to Camariñas, which is the beach which has been “adopted” by the Balearics. In a communique, the Balearic government said that director general Antoni Torres would be at the airport today to see the volunteers off. They will spend a week in the area, tackling the arduous task of cleaning up the mess left behind by the oil spill, which has come to be known as chapapote. The latest group of volunteers comprises seven members of Civil Defence of Minorca, seven from Ibiza, and 22 from Son Servera, Palma, Marratxi, Manacor, Selva, Lloret, Calvia, Esporles, Pollensa and Inca. The group will also include two police officers from Pollensa, two firemen from Minorca, two officials from the Balearic ministry of the interior and four from the environment ministry, two nurses and a doctor. The volunteers have a tough task ahead of them, if the experience of the previous groups is anything to go by. The first group cleaned up five tons of chapapote on their first day. The second group managed 12 tons of chapapote in two days, despite adverse weather conditions, and there is still a long way to go. Works have to don protective suits, boots, gloves, masks and goggles as protection against the oil spill. In January, Balearic leader Francesc Antich travelled to Camariñas to sign an agreement with the local council and to design the strategy for cleaning up the beach. Antich also offered to send a team of experts in tourism to advise the council how to recover the town's image, damaged by the black oil over the rocks and beaches.

The Balearic government is covering the transport, board and lodging costs of the volunteers -a group of 60, changing every week, until June. After seeing off the volunteers, Torres will have a meeting in Bunyola with 55 volunteers from Civil Defence groups in Majorca and Ibanet (Balearic Nature Institute) brigades, to cut up and remove pine trees affected by the storms of November 2001. This will be the sixth operation to clean up the wooded areas which were worst hit by the gale force winds which devastated the island. They are in Artà, Alcudia,Manacor, Cala Rajada and Can Picafort.