More Bad News for NCV; Nordkapp Leaks Oil

February 2, 2007
Norwegian Coastal Voyage, which was forced to cut short one cruise and cancel three others after Nordkapp ran aground on rocks in the Antarctic, now admits that the ship has leaked oil.

According to news reports and a company statement, a Spanish research station in the highly fragile ecosystem said that discharges had been located near the Deception Island, the spot where Nordkapp ran aground. The island is part of the South Shetland Island archipelago in Antarctica.

"It has become clear that small amounts of light marine diesel were discharged while the diesel was being transferred from one one damaged tank to an undamaged tank," said the NCV statement. "The transfer was made to allow MS Nordkapp to sail to Maxwell Bay, King George Island. The transfer was immediately abandoned once it emerged that this was resulting in a leakage."

The statement notes that while it is difficult to estimate the amount involved, it is believed that 132 - 198 gallons leaked. NCV says that it is "a light marine diesel that dissolves relatively quickly in water."

The Norwegian Polar Institute, Norway's central institution for research, environmental monitoring and mapping of the polar regions, has issued a statement. "A spill of such limited extent would normally not pose a threat to the environment. But the spill happened at Deception Island, which has a special ecosystem because of its volcanic origin."

The Norway-based NCV (which is part of the Hurtigruten Group) says it will ask the Norwegian Embassy in Argentina to initiate a maritime inquiry to find out why the ship ran aground in the first place.

--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor