A burst underground pipeline in Southern France has gushed oil into a nature reserve on the edge of the world famous Carmargue national park.
More than 4,000 cubic metres of crude has spilled over two hectares of the Coussouls de Crau reserve – the regional fire brigade is trying to limit the pollution and a section of the pipeline has been shut off.
Junior Environment Minister Chantal Jouanno said:
“It is obviously a real ecological disaster because we are on a protected site. Obviously the operating company is responsible and we will do all that is necessary to see if they’ve been negligent.”
Despite hazardous fume emissions hampering efforts a clean up operation is underway.
The broken pipe is operated by the European company SPSE.
Francois Trabucco, speaking for the SPSE tried to play down the environmental impact.
“The water table has not been touched.There is no problem for the locals because they are so far away so the neighbourhood is not affected and there’s no river so it’s impossible to say if there is a danger to the environment,” said Francois Trabucco.
An investigation has been launched into what caused the pipeline which is 38 years old to burst and whether others across France will now have to be inspected.