By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
THE three-and-a-half mile long oil slick from the tanks of the cargo ship Don Pedro which sunk off Ibiza in the early hours of Wednesday morning, continued to wash up on the beaches of the island famous for its white sand yesterday.

Three beaches, Talamanca, Figueretes and Platja d´en Bossa, were closed on Thursday and yesterday the wind began pushing the half-mile-wide slick to the south of Playa den Bossa where salvage and emergency services were being stepped up to tackle the moving oil.

However, despite claims by the Minister for Development, Magdalena Alvarez, who visited the worst hit areas yesterday that the threat was diminishing, extra equipment was being flown in from various parts of the mainland - and the Balearic government activated its marine pollution emergency plan.

Throughout the day 3.500 more metres of special fuel-absorbent protective barriers were airlifted onto Ibiza so the salvage teams battling to contain and remove the oil could expand their operation.

The Balearic marine pollution emergency was given the green light at 11am yesterday morning and combines the resources of the local ministries for the interior, agriculture, fisheries, environment, tourism, commerce, finance and transport.

The primary aim to ensure that there are sufficient boots on the ground in Ibiza to deal with the situation and a special control centre has been set up in the Botafoc marina in Ibiza to pool and administer the region's resources and control the marine clean up operation.

By yesterday evening some 25 tonnes of fuel had been removed from the sea and five tonnes from the beaches.
Over 145 specialists were busy shovelling lumps of oil off the polluted beaches as the Ibizan oil spill continued to dominate the news across Spain.
The movement of the slick is being monitored round-the-clock and all the beaches in the potential danger zone are under 24-hour watch with bathers urged to be on their guard and to report any signs of oil on the beaches which are open.

Alvarez, accompanied by the newly elected President of the Balearics, Francesc Antich, spoke to some of the members of the clean up teams during her visit.

She proclaimed that, apart from the three closed beaches, all of Ibiza's remaining beaches are in perfect condition and that tourists have no need to be concerned.

She praised the efforts of the salvage and clean up teams for doing everything possible to combat the slick as quickly and effectively as possible and claimed that the three closed beaches will be re-opened “in a matter of days.” However, the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior was sailing for Ibiza yesterday carrying a team of environmentalists and marine biologists which will carry out an independent investigation while the environmental group denounced the shipping company Iscomar in the Balearic High Court for a possible ecological crime.

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