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PERSIAN GULF SPILLS

1-- A previously unknown oil slick was spotted this week in the Persian Gulf. It was first thought to be new, but is now believed by some authorities to be part of an earlier spill that had gone undetected.

SIZE: 10 miles long

LOCATION: About 50 miles off the Kuwait-Saudi border, due east of Khafji.

BACKGROUND: The slick may be part of an earlier, Jan. 19 spill at Al Ahmadi; others speculate that it is from a later spill in the far northwestern corner of the Gulf from an oil platform at Mina al Bakr. It is not clear if the spill was deliberate, nor is the volume known. Heavy smoke from burning oil and clouds have hidden the area from view for some time, according to Saudi officials.

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PROJECTIONS: Spill should move to the southeast, down the center of the Gulf unless the wind changes direction, which could send it toward the Iranian coast or the United Arab Emirates. 2-- The mid-January Al Ahmadi spill from Sea Island Terminal, believed to be the biggest spill in history, is now a 10- to 15-mile band along the Saudi coast.

SIZE: Between 280 to 440 million gallons.

PROJECTION: The spill--now composed of small areas of heavy oil concentration and large areas of sheen--will remain in this area until early March. Some oil is expected to escape to the southeast around the tip of Abu Ali over the next several weeks.

BACKGROUND: The United States has accused the Iraqis of deliberating releasing the oil about Jan. 19. Extensive efforts to protect coastal desalination facilities and endangered wildlife have been made. A special Norwegian vessel with a large skimmer has been successful in its effort to recover offshore oil.

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SOURCE: Applied Science Associates


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