From Iceland — Investigation Into Continued Oil Leakage From WW2 Wreck In Seyðisfjörður

Investigation Into Continued Oil Leakage From WW2 Wreck In Seyðisfjörður

Published July 21, 2020

Poppy Askham
Photo by
John Rogers

The Coast Guard is investigating a new oil spill from a wrecked British WW2 tanker in Seyðisfjörður in east Iceland just two months after a major project to stop leakage was completed.

As reported in May, the Coast Guard oversaw an initiative to fill the hull of the El Grillo wreck with concrete. But locals have reported seeing oil on the surface of the fjord in recent weeks, prompting a fresh investigation.

El Grillo has been leaking oil sporadically into Seyðisfjörður for over 75 years, causing considerable harm to local wildlife. The British tanker was sunk in 1944 when it was attacked by German fighter planes.  In October 2019, a routine Coast Guard dive in the area revealed that much of the vessel’s hull had corroded. The Ministry for the Environment approved a 38 million ISK grant to attempt to stem the spill as it was feared higher summer sea temperatures could worsen the leak. Most recent estimates suggest the tanker is holding 10-15 tonnes of oil.

Last week, the Coast Guard sent divers with cameras to the wreck to investigate the possible new oil leakage, Frettablaðið reports. According to the director of operations, the oil is not leaking from the area of the tanker that was filled with concrete. Visibility was poor during the dive so experts are still analysing the footage to determine the spill’s origin, but the results can be expected imminently.

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