Panama Canal: Oil Spill Causes Partial Closing : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Nando Times

Oil spill closes part of Panama Canal

The Associated Press

PANAMA CITY, Panama (January 25, 2001 7:48 p.m. EST - A Greek tanker spilled 5,000 gallons of oil into the Panama Canal, temporarily shutting down one of the locks and delaying traffic through the waterway.

Officials said the leak in the Neapolis, an oil tanker and a so-called Panamax ship, the largest allowed to move through the canal, was caused by previous damage. They said the ship never came in contact with the canal's walls.

The leak slowed canal traffic, but did not completely interrupt it, said Maricarmen Sarsanedas, a spokeswoman for the Panama Canal Authority. The authority took over the canal in December 1999 after 85 years of U.S. control.

Workers inspected the ship Thursday to determine exactly what caused the leak. It completed its trip through the canal, and was anchored for repairs.

One side of the Pedro Miguel locks, on the canal's Pacific side, closed down to allow workers to clean up the oil. It reopened a few hours later.

Less than a month ago, an Indian ship carrying grain ran aground while passing through the Gaillard Cut, the narrowest part of the canal, flooding one of its containers. There were no damages or injuries and service was uninterrupted.

An average of 35 ships pass through the canal daily.

Between January and September 2000, the canal registered 16 accidents, compared to 19 during the same period in 1999, when the canal was still under U.S. control, the authority said.

-- Rachel Gibson (, January 25, 2001

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