"Oil Spill Threatens 'Ecological Disaster' in Italy"

"ROME -- An oil spill that fouled a small river in northern Italy reached the Po River on Wednesday, with officials warning of an ecological disaster as they scrambled to contain the sludge before it contaminated Italy's longest and most important river.

Milan regional officials said the cause was certainly sabotage at a former refinery turned oil depot, since the cisterns were opened and the oil allowed to flow unimpeded into the Lambro River near Monza.

The cisterns 'were opened by someone who was familiar with the plant and knew how to operate them,' said Cinzia Secchi, a spokeswoman for the Milan provincial government.

There were varying accounts of the amount of oil released: Secchi said officials now believed 2.5 million liters (660,000 gallons) had poured out, down from the initial estimates of 10 million liters but significantly more than the 600,000 liters reported by the ANSA news agency and environmental groups."

An AP update said the spill "snaked down the Po River on Thursday to reach the province of Parma, raising fears that the home of Italy's famed prosciutto, parmesan cheese and other agricultural staples might be at risk of water contamination."

Nicole Winfield reports for the Associated Press February 24, 2010.

See Also:

"Italian Oil Slick Reaches Key Farm Center of Parma" (AP)

Friday, February 26, 2010