Petrol leak in Limburg canal after fuel line came loose

Petrol leak in Limburg canal after fuel line came loose
Albertkanaal. Photo from Belga.

Approximately 30,000 litres of fuel was spilled into the Albert canal in Beringen in the province of Limburg last night when waves created by a passing ship caused the fuel line to come loose.

The fuel was being pumped into a tanker for transport to an Esso Group Bruno filling station, VRT reports.

“The service station is supplied once or twice a week via the canal. While the transfer was in progress, another ship passed too quickly, causing a wave. This caused the pipe to come loose and the fuel spurted out,” Beringen mayor Thomas Vints (CD&V) said on Sunday evening.

“The skipper reacted quickly and tried to contain the fuel. The fire brigade of South-West Limburg arrived on the scene but didn’t have the necessary equipment to deal with such a  large quantity. At around 21:45, the civil protection department also arrived to clear the fuel oil from around the ship.”

Environmental impact still being assessed

The darkness made it difficult for emergency services to estimate how far the fuel drifted in the water, but with no strong winds, it is suspected that the oil slick didn’t drift that far.

“There is no danger to the people living in the vicinity, though residents of the Nijverheidsstraat, Kaaistraat and Voortstraat may have noticed a strong smell of oil on Sunday evening,” Vints said.

Civil protection authorities started work again this morning to map out the pollution. The ship is still moored along the quay and the nuisance for the neighbourhood is minimal.

“If it had happened in the summer, it would have been different. But now the smell is not too bad,” said alderman for the environment Tijs Lemmens (Voluit).

“If people who live nearby still want to stop the smell entering their homes they should turn off fans and keep windows and doors closed.”

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