the world insists on consuming oil as a means to an "ill-end",
the GGL puts forward an important proposal, which should ensure
that disasters from super-tanker
oil spills become a thing of the past.
Here are some reports from Looking-Glass
- Sea Otters in the area where
a massive oil disaster occured in 1989 are still being seriously
effected 16 years on. The Exon Valdez spilled 42 million litres
of crued oil into the Prince William Sound, Alaska in March
of that year. By September 1,000 dead otters where found in
the spill area. Now, recent and ongoing research has shown that
animals born after the spill continue to be adversly affected.
Mortality patterns show that animals are experiencing long term
negative chronic effects from the spill with decreasing survival
- Europe's worst environmental
coastal disaster spillage has continued to pollute sea, coastline
and destroy wildlife where an oil tanker broke up and sank 70
km south of the French Brittany coast in Christmas 1999. The
tanker Erika, chartered by French oil giant TotalFina, spilled
around half its 25,000-tonne cargo of oil when it broke up in
stormy seas. The resulting pollution devastated 400 km (250
miles) of coastline and has so far killed or maimed 300,000
- In November
2002 the tanker Prestige split in two and sank off the North
West Coast of Spain. It contained 70,000 metric tons of oil
and almost doubled the damage caused by the Exxon Valdez.
More than 300,000 seabirds where killed, some of these rare
species such as the Balearic Sheerwater (Puffinus mauretannicus).
For months after, multiple oil slicks reached the coast of Spain
and Southern France, and years later oil has continued to cause
environmental havoc along the affected coasts. Even 4,000 Scottish
seabirds died following the Prestige disaster. These are puffins
who flew south to breed in areas off Spain where the oils slicks
continued to spread along the northern coastline.
The reason why so much oil is released
from tankers during a hull breach is due to their poor design.
More than 50% of tankers transporting oil around the world at
the moment have a single skinned hull structure. Only a few millimeters
thickness of metal hull stands between the oil inside and the
ocean; so if the hull cracks, oil leaks directly into the sea.
Duel hull tankers are now being built with a mixed degree of safety
measures. There are designs on the drawing board that describe
dual hull tankers with a series of individual inner cells. These
inner cells would hold the oil. If a hull breach were to occur
in a tanker based on this improved design, the inner hull and
the cells holding the oil would stand far more chance of remaining
Below are the deadlines that world
governments have already drawn up for the phasing out of single-hulled
2005: Tankers built before 1980
are now barred from Europe
2007: Tankers built in 1973 or earlier are supposed to be withdrawn
2015: Single-hulled vessels to be completely phased-out
All these phases are or have been
too too slow in the uptake and do not specify an international
standard of high-safety inner-cell designs. Analysts also believe
that mounting international pressure to speed up the phasing-out
process of single-hulled tankers is unlikely to be acted on.