Remnants of larger-scale oil pollution hit Noarootsi

Mazut pollution found on the shores of the Western Estonian island of Vormsi. May 23, 2022.
Mazut pollution found on the shores of the Western Estonian island of Vormsi. May 23, 2022. Source: Juhan Hepner/ERR

The residue of an oil slick which hit the coasts of two of Estonia's largest islands late last month have now been found to have polluted a mainland beach also.

Large deposits of coagulated Mazut, a type of low-grade oil in common use during the Soviet era, were first reported found on the east coast of Hiiumaa on May 23.

While much of the pollution has now been cleaned up, high winds through the course of last week also moved some of the slick to the coast of Noarootsi municipality, Lääne County, albeit in fairly small quantities.

An 8-km section between the villages of Elbiku and Dirhami, in the adjacent Lääne-Nigula municipality , have been affected, the Rescue Board (Päästeamet) says, and is likely to have emanated from the same source – yet to be ascertained – as the pollution that hit the east coast of Hiiumaa and the coast of Vormsi, the board added.

To date, over 6 tonnes of mazut residue has been cleaned from beaches on both islands, with over half of the total being removed from the Vormsi shoreline.

So far, little pollution has been found in the Lääne-Nigula municipality or its environs, but the public are urged to contact the national general information center on 1247 should they happen upon any oil pollution.

Given the unpredictable nature of the weather, more pollution zones may be found on the coast of western Estonia in the coming weeks, Hannes Aasma, head of the Rescue Board's ​​Hiiumaa and Lääne County region, said.

The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) and the Environmental Board (Keskonnaamet) were also involved in the cleanup operation on Hiiumaa and Vormsi in the days following the discovery of the mazut spoilage, while appeals for volunteers to do same were met with plenty of uptake also.

While the seabed in the region is relatively shallow, and generally less than 20m even several kilometers from the land, and is also dotted with dozens of shipwrecks, the source of the pollution has not yet been reported. 


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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