Sines refinery fuel thieves cause “environmental disaster”

The same group of thieves thought to have been behind a heist of 53,000 litres of diesel last summer, have struck again – this time causing an environmental disaster in the area of Pegões, Montijo, leaving thousands of litres of fuel spilling into the countryside near Sines refinery.

The modus operandi was the same as last July’s.

The group “used special drills and heavy machinery” to access a pipeline leading from the refinery to the terminal of Aveiras.

This time, however, they didn’t get away with any fuel.

What appears to have happened is that diesel passing through the pipeline started gushing uncontrollably.

The thieves, realising the plan had gone pear-shaped, made their escape before a member of the public alerted authorities to the rapidly increasing river of diesel.

Says national tabloid Correio da Manhã, had the pipeline been pumping petrol, or jetfuel, the consequences could have been much worse.

As it was, petrol was said to be starting to leak as the disaster was reported.

It is a now a question of clean-up squads mopping up.

A statement from GNR police said: “The group made a hole in the ground to get to the tube, and then drilled into the tube – causing the spill.

“Most of the liquid was diesel, but when we arrived, there was also petrol”.

Media sources says the pipeline is also used for transporting gas from the refinery,

CM is the only paper to talk about an “environmental disaster”, with little space given to how long it will take authorities to clean up the mess.

Reports also make no reference to any leads there may be on either this case, or last summer’s.

It may be that the thieves had specialist knowledge of pipeline layouts and schedules, as well as specialist equipment. But for now, no one is elaborating.

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