Friday February 26: Sea Alarm put an assessment team on stand by in order to travel to Italy and assist with the initiation of an oiled wildlife response, at the request of the Italian authorities. In the morning Sea Alarm was alerted by Ezio Amato, a scientist and emergency response specialist of ICRAM, the Central Institute for Applied Scientific Research of the Sea, who asked if Sea Alarm would be prepared to assist in the developing incident.
An oil slick was heading towards the Po Delta and although huge efforts to stop the oil were still undertaken by the Italian Civil Protection authorities, the fear was that the protected wetland at the mouth of the river could become affected. While waiting for an answer from the Italian Civil Protection authorities, Sea Alarm composed a strike team of three people, Sophie Vanroose (Wildlife Rescue Centre Ostend), Elvira Von Schenck (International Fund for Animal Welfare) and Hugo Nijkamp (Sea Alarm Foundation). In the early morning of Saturday February 27, Sea Alarm was informed that the Civil Protection fortunately had managed to stop the oil from reaching the Po Delta, and subsequently the alert for the strike team was lifted.The spill in the Po river had been caused by someone opening a valve in a refinery near Monza, releasing over 600t of household fuel oil into a tributary river of the Po, which was reported as act of environmental terrorism. (Photo from AP/Tommaso Balestra).