Madrid, Spain — A tanker that spilled 5 million gallons of oil off northwestern Spain before it split in two and sank is leaking about 33,000 gallons of oil every day, officials said Tuesday.
The leaks from the tanker Prestige could continue into 2006, said Emilio Lora Tamayo, who led a scientific commission studying the disaster.
It was more bad news for the Spanish coast, one of the world's richest fishing areas, which has been tarred by the oil washing ashore.
"We can seal the cracks, not all of them, of course," Lora Tamayo said. "Or we can try to pump out the remaining oil."
The Prestige sank Nov. 19, six days after it cracked in a storm, and took about 15 million gallons of oil to the bottom of the Atlantic. Spanish officials insisted then the oil wasn't a threat because near-freezing temperatures two miles beneath the surface would cause it to solidify.
Deputy Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the oil was leaking from several cracks in the bow and stern.
Rajoy said officials were watching a slick measuring some 35 miles by 11 miles on the water above the tanker, 152 miles out to sea. He said boats were working to scoop up at least two other major slicks some 50 miles off the Spanish coast.
The ships and fishermen in smaller boats have scooped up 3.4 million gallons so far.