Oil clean-up hazardous to human health

5:44 min

Rescue teams have been working around the clock to clear up the giant oil spill at Tjörn in the Gothenburg archipelago, the worst in the area since 1987.

Coastguards on nine ships using brush skimmers to remove the heavy, sticky fuel oil from the sea fear strong winds on Monday afternoon will spread more oil out from the shore while those in protective suits cleaning up the fifty centimetre thick slick, ten to fifty metres up on the small islands, believe it could take until the start of next summer's tourist season before the area is safe for the public.

The oil was first spotted off the south part of the island of Tjörn last Thursday and later moved to Krykosund and Härön.

Over two hundred tonnes of oil has so far been removed. Pumps and skimmer equipment is being used to take up the oil which has spread in bad weather from the water while on land on places where pumping equipment cannot be used, 30 people wearing special protective  masks are digging up the oil with spades along the beaches. Rescue crews from Karlskrona and Vännersborg have also been drafted in.

An additional problem is high up on the shoreline where the oil has painted the rocks and must be scrubbed off manually.

Carl Ian Bissmark, Chief Fire Officer at Tjörn municipality told Radio Sweden that many islanders want to help out but it's too dangerous.

"The oil is so polluted, you cannot breathe, you get dizzy within an hour if you do not have special equipment and we are now requesting extra resources."

The island municipality of Tjörn will seek compensation for the cost of the clean-up, which involves bringing in extra help from neighbouring communities as well as 20 people from the army scouring the shoreline to see how far the oil has spread.

It's believed the oil has come from a collission between two vessels west of denmark on September 10. Samples have been taken to compare the oil.

The area is famous for its outstanding beauty and has a bird protection sanctuary.

Over 50 birds polluted by oil have so far been collected by a volunteer team in Rödbo in Gothenburg, some of them could not be saved. 

A rubber fence has been put along the shoreline to try and prevent the oil being blown out to sea by strong winds.