SAINT-PETERSBURG, February 19. /TASS/. A crewless and fully-loaded Canadian fuel barge may threaten the environment as it drifts trapped in icy waters 70-80 kilometers off Russia's Chukotka coast, an Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute official warned on Thursday.
Russian icebreakers could rescue the vessel but costing billions of roubles and taking three weeks to cross the Bering and Chukchi seas from their far east Sakhalin base, said spokesman Eugene Mironov.
The vessel drifted along Canada’s northern coast and Alaska through the Beaufort Sea and entered Russian territorial waters in December. The crew is likely to have abandoned the barge due to the high cost of rescue, officials say.
Russian border guards have been monitoring the ecological situation since the barge appeared in Russian waters, said a Chukotka government official, adding that regular flights were being made to survey the territory.
No fuel spillage has been reported so far.