Thieves suspected of causing large oil spill

The environmental consequences of the oil spill are unknown, though officials say a larger catastrophe has been averted

A large spill of diesel oil in the village of Knabstrup, near the north-western Zealand town of Holbæk, this week may have been caused by thieves, police say.


Police first received a call on Monday night from nearby residents who said they could smell oil.


According to reports, the police found a tube sticking out of the ground that had been connected to a large oil pipe buried a meter underground.


The underground pipe is connected to an oil refinery near Kalundborg. The pipe, which supplies smaller oil depots across Zealand, is owned by Forening af Danske Olieberedskabslagre, FDO, the organisation responsible for ensuring oil supplies at times of emergency.


Peter Stigsgaard, the FDO’s managing director, said this is the first case he has come across of criminals targeting oil pipelines.


“It has never happened before. It’s not something we have ever seen, nor have we ever come across attempts at theft,” Stigsgaard told the Ritzau news bureau.


Police are not ruling out that a leaky tube attached to the main pipe by thieves was the cause of the oil spill.


“There could be many reasons for a sudden leak,” Steen Aarenstrup, of Midt- og Vestsjællands Politi, told TV2 News. “But leaks don’t happen spontaneously so that is why we have dispatched technicians to find out whether there is any evidence to indicate a crime has taken place or whether there was a technical error with the system.”


Pipes from the Kalundborg oil refinery follow a nearby road (Photo: Google Maps)

The oil has polluted nearby waterways and marshes, though the environmental consequences of the spill are as yet unknown.


Jeppe Søndergaard, Holbæk council’s head of technical and environmental affairs, said a larger catastrophe had been averted.


“Firstly we managed to stop the leak itself and now we have begun further planning,” he told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “Even though we were very scared yesterday it looks like we have the pollution under control.”


Drinking water has not been affected, though the council will now examine whether the oil has seeped into underground aquifers.


“The marsh that the oil leaked into was saturated with water due to all the rain we've had recently, which hopefully means that the oil will be easier to suck up, since it floats.”


TV2 reported yesterday that at least six tonnes of oil had been transported away from the site.

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