The French Maritime Prefecture of the Mediterranean (Premar Mediterranee) brought in multiple pollution response vessels to clean up the spill, including the French Navy tugs Pionnier and Jason and the offshore tug Altagna.
Over the weekend, French authorities closed beaches along a 20-nm stretch of Corsica's coastline and issued a temporary fishing ban in anticipation of the spill's landfall. However, on Sunday, the spill broke up into multiple sections and changed course, drifting slowly away from shore.
France's minister of the sea, Annick Girardin, told FranceInfo that officials are certain that the long line of heavy oil was intentionally discharged by a vessel.
"It is most certainly a [discharge], there are few doubts, it is a malicious act. We are three hours from a port, all this probably to save a few thousand euros. So they are thugs of the sea, that's how I want to [describe] them," said Girardin.
Girardin confirmed that 21 suspect vessels have been identified, including three ships that are of particular interest.
The spill recovery operation has collected about four tons of oil, she said, and operations will continue during daylight to abate the remaining oil on the surface. Girardin expressed concern that the heaviest fractions of the oil will sink and come back later to pollute Corsica's shores. "There is the risk all the same in the days to come, and even perhaps this summer, to find pellets which would arrive on the coast, because the temperature is heating up and it is rising to the surface." she said.