Denmark accused of keeping quiet over 'environmental disaster' that saw fertiliser and oil pour into sea during fire

Some of the thousands of tonnes of fertiliser released poured into the harbour

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Danish authorities have been accused of staying quiet over an environmental disaster of historic proportions.

Several thousand tonnes of liquid fertiliser burst out of a silo in Frederica Harbour on 3 March, causing palm oil to leak from a neighbouring vat and catch on fire, starting a huge blaze.

But a Danish newspaper has accused local authorities of failing to announce the impact of the accident for several weeks, amid fears that huge amounts of toxic substances flowed into the sea and could kill countless fish.

Peter Balsgaard, a spokesperson for South Jutland Police, told Metroxpress:  “Several thousand tonnes of liquid fertiliser were released, some of which was collected in the harbour area. The silo containing the liquid fertiliser collapsed due to still unknown reasons and the fertliser ran out with incredible speed and spread through the area. 

“In the collapse, a neighbouring silo was damaged and palm oil ran out. The palm oil caught on fire.”

Businesses and homes were evacuated in a 1km radius as firefighters worked all night and into the next day to extinguish the blaze.

The Danish Society for Nature Conservation told the newspaper that the incident was an “environmental catastrophe” on a scale never seen before, according to a translation by The Local. 

It took 22 days, until Metroxpress published its report, for Denmark’s environmental and protection agencies and Fredericia Municipality to release details of leaks and their potential impact, the website reported. 

The Associated Danish Ports authority said more than 100 people had been deployed in clean-up efforts to remove “a thick layer of pam oil, water and foam”.

A statement said a “large amount” of oil and fertiliser had to be cleared from buildings, quays and roads.

The row came as the Danish Environment and Food Minister, Eva Kjer Hansen, announced she would resign on Saturday.

She had been accused of misleading parliament over the environmental impact of a set of agricultural reforms and Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen must now replace her or call fresh elections if he feels he has not have enough support from the Conservatives to run his Liberal-led coalition government.