This story makes my blood boil. If these RETARDS can't ensure that they can get the oil safely and intact from one place to another they have NO BUSINESS shipping at all!!! And this company better be held accountable, and the people responsible for this screw up of monumental proportions.
LA CORUNA, Spain -- The crippled oil tanker Prestige has split in two off Spain's north-west Atlantic coast, threatening one of the world's worst environmental disasters.
Environmental group WWF has previously warned that if all the fuel oil leaked, it would be one of the largest oil spills in the world -- about twice as big as the Exxon Valdez spill off Alaska in 1989.
CNN's Al Goodman said the worst fears of government, environmentalists and fishermen had come to pass with a "very desperate" outcome.
Goodman said on Tuesday the damage had already been estimated at $90 million.
Oil has already washed up along the coast and birds and other wildlife have been contaminated by an 11 by 8 kilometre (7 by 5 mile) slick, Goodman said.
Several smaller spills have also been seen off the coast, Galician government officials say.
CNN's Juliet Bremner reported from the scene that oil was leaking already and barrages that had been laid to try to contain the spill would be useless because of the volume of fuel involved.
She described how an anguished local fisherman had crossed himself, pointed to the coastline and repeated: "A disaster, a disaster."
Dr Ian White, Managing Director of ther International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation said that heavy fuel oil was "one of the most difficult oils to deal with."
It was thicky, heavy, persisent and sticky and would not be dispersed even by heavy seas, he said.
The tanker has leaked fuel into the rich fishing grounds off Spain's northwest coast and the government warned that the oil spilled so far could seep into some of the many inlets that penetrate the Galicia coast like crooked fingers.
The ship is roughly on the border of areas for which Spain and Portugal have responsibility for maritime rescue operations, the ministry added.
Portugal and Spain had both barred salvagers from towing the ship to any of their ports to protect their fishing and tourism industries from further damage.
The shoreline is known as the "coast of death" because of many shipwrecks there.
Regional authorities have temporarily banned fishing in an area famous for its shellfish, octopus and crabs.
"We've had accidents before but nothing like this. If many fish die, will they ever come back?" Federico Martinez Vidal, a fisherman in the town of Camelle, told The Associated Press.
On Monday two Spanish tugboats had tried to pull the tanker as far away from the coast as possible. When it split it was listing about 130 kilometres (70 nautical miles) from the Galician coast.
The Spanish Government's decision to tow the Prestige further out to sea and set up barriers, coupled with a change in wind direction, had first raised hopes a disaster could be averted.
Spain says the vessel was bound for Gibraltar when the spill happened, a charge Britain denies.
Spain and the European Union have criticised Latvia, where the boat was loaded with much of its fuel, and Britain, which has jurisdiction over Gibraltar.
Both have accused Britain and Gibraltar of failing to comply with shipping safety regulations -- a charge they both deny.
The tanker's Greek captain was being held in custody after five hours of questioning by a judge in La Coruna on Sunday. (Full story)
Maritime authorities allege he failed to cooperate with rescue crews after issuing a distress call.
For hours as the Prestige drifted perilously close to shore, he refused to let tugboats secure cables to his stricken ship, officials said.
The tanker is owned by the Greek company Mare Shipping Incorporated.
Spain's north-west coast has suffered several tanker accidents in recent years, the worst in December 1992 when the Greek tanker Aegean Sea lost 21.5 million gallons of crude oil when it ran aground near A Coruna.