The environmental organization Greenpeace has criticized Spanish authorities for towing the burning Russian trawler Oleg Naydenov from the port of Las Palmas to the open seas where the vessel sank on Tuesday, laden with 1,409 tons of fuel, Reuters reports.

Greenpeace says that the ship poses an environmental threat to the habitat, saying that the ship sank some 15 miles of Gran Canaria islands to the depth of 2,400 meters, and that the fuel tanks might have already released the fuel under the immense pressure. The site is populated by sea turtles and dolphins.

Television images showed oil floating on the water, forming a 3.7-mile slick close to tourist beaches, confirming that the tanks have cracked underwater.

The state prosecutor for the Canary Islands has started an investigation into the sinking.

As World Maritime News reported earlier, the trawler had been burning for days after a fire that started in the engine room April 11 spread throughout the vessel which was at the time loaded with cardboard.

After failed attempts to contain the fire, the authorities decided early Sunday to tow the burning trawler some 20 miles offshore, fearing that the ship’s fuel tanks might explode or that the vessel might sink in the Las Palmas port due to the large amounts of water used to contain the fire.

World Maritime News Staff; Image: Salvamento Maritimo