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Environmentalists demand more answers from Shell after Scotland oil spill

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World Wildlife Fund Scotland was similarly unimpressed with the slow release of information. Director Richard Dixon says the public will make up its own mind on the spill, given the "grudging" nature of what Shell made public.

Threat of more leaks looms

The groups' demands for disclosure came as it was revealed that 600 tons of oil remained in the faulty system and the government expressed concern that more oil could be released if work to shut off a leaking valve, planned for today, went awry.

Helicopters armed with detergent and vessels equipped with booms are on standby should more leaks occur. So far, work to place a concrete blanket over a section of depressurized pipeline in order to push it back into the seabed has been successful, Shell said. Pushing it into the seabed would stabilize the pipe, which rose up about four feet in some sections.

Although the spill is regarded as "significant" by government authorities, a government advisory group said the risk to wildlife and the environment has been "minimal." Shell believes the released oil will be dispersed naturally. According to some reports, the remote location will keep the environmental impact low.

However, Shell admitted that at least one seabird had been spotted covered in oil, signaling the possibility that more could have come into contact with the spill and underscoring environmentalists' fears.

'A bad mistake'

Shell's belated explanation on Wednesday in the Scottish national newspaper The Scotsman included some honest assessments of the damage.

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