A foundering oil tanker split in two off the coast of Spain this week, threatening to spill twice as much oil as the Exxon Valdez did in the 1989 Alaskan disaster. The Greek-owned Prestige left Latvia last week carrying 20 million gallons of heavy oil and was damaged in a storm off Spain’s shipwreck-prone “Coast of Death.” Tons of gooey sludge began washing up on the shore, coating birds and killing the shellfish that support the region’s fishing industry. Apportioning blame for what could be the world’s worst spill has already begun: Spain accused Britain of failing to overhaul the Prestige during its stops at British ports in recent years. And Spanish officials have arrested the captain, Apostolus Maguras, saying his refusal to cooperate with salvage crews helped sink the ship.
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