By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
THE Spanish government is going to take legal action against the vessel responsible for the oil slick which hit the coast of Calvia on Wednesday forcing the emergency services to close three of the holiday resort's popular beaches.

Cala Viñas, Cala Falco and Magalluf beach were re-opened yesterday after 100 kilos of fuel had been removed from the beaches by mid-afternoon, along with a further three tonnes of contaminated sand.

The central government representative Ramon Socias yesterday visited the special marine cleaning vessel Clara Campoamor to see for himself how the emergency services had responded to the oil slick and the extent of the damage.

LEGAL ACTION
It was during the visit that Socias warned that the government will take legal action against the vessel responsible.
However, he was forced to admit that the slick could have been caused by one of 18 suspect ships.
Nevertheless, a full investigation is underway focusing on each of the 18 ships which sailed passed the stretch of affected Calvia coastline during the hours leading up to oil slick being spotted and reported.

Socias said that marine investigators were studying the sea traffic long the various sea routes yesterday morning “but it's a difficult process, once we locate the vessel we'll then have to check its bilge tanks, but we are determined to locate and fine the vessel,” he added. “This is a very sensitive time of year for the Balearics, as it prepares for the start of the summer holiday season,” said Socias “and the consequences of the oil slick could have been much worse and taken much longer to clean up. “Prolonged closure of the beaches would have made the tourist industry nervous,” he added.
Fortunately, the emergency was dealt with within 24 hours and Socias yesterday congratulated the 100-odd people from the Balearic Emergency Service, Calvia council, Marine Rescue, the Guardia Civil and the Local Police, involved in the operation for their swift response and success.

PATCHES
He said that there were still a few patches left to remove and marine rescue vessels were continuing to patrol the area to make sure there was no further risk, but the emergency was officially over and the Ministry for Health was busy analysing samples of the fuel.

Some media sources claimed yesterday that the fuel has been discharged by a tanker heading for Valencia but Socias would not be drawn on any details of the investigation yesterday.

On Wednesday afternoon when the alarm was raised at 3pm, bathers were ordered out of the water and sunbathers off the beaches as the Local Police moved to cordon off the affected area and specialist cleaners wearing white suits and breathing masks started tackling the oil slick.