INTERTANKO witnesses clean-up operations in the wake of the Prestige incident

INTERTANKO's Environmental Manager and members of the Environmental Committee visited northern Spain this week to witness the progress being made in the clean-up in the wake of the Prestige incident.

Dr Paul Kingston of Heriot-Watt University and Tim Wilkins, INTERTANKO Environmental Manger, visited sites between La Coruña and Cape Finisterre to attempt to ascertain the extent of the ecological damage caused by the oil that had come ashore following the break-up and subsequent sinking of the Prestige.

Much of the oil had come ashore in localised areas, primarily south west facing rocky coves and bays although there were a number of beaches also contaminated in the first wave of oil pollution. The clean-up, which had been underway since 20 November, had been successful in removing most of the oil from the more accessible areas and from the affected beaches. It was observed that the coastline in this area was mainly rocky but interspersed with more sensitive marshland and mudflat habitats which would be highly susceptible if oiled. Fortunately, neither the more sensitive estuarine areas nor the many muscle and cockle fisheries in the region had been affected at the time of the visit.

ITOPF representatives are still present and observing the situation as there is still oil off the coast. At present it is difficult to predict where this may come ashore and as a consequence observation flights are being carried out every day to inspect both the surrounding coastal waters and the sensitive habitats for oil.

Contact: Tim Wilkins, tim.wilkins@intertanko.com