More pressure on rust bucket ships

PRESSURE is growing today for tougher action to stop rust-bucket oil tankers sailing along Suffolk's beautiful coastline.Heavy seas appear to have removed much of the oil which was washed ashore in the recent spill, and experts say the material left in the water would also have been broken up by now.

By Richard Cornwell

By RICHARD CORNWELL

Felixstowe editor

richard.cornwell@eveningstar.co.uk

PRESSURE is growing today for tougher action to stop rust-bucket oil tankers sailing along Suffolk's beautiful coastline.

Heavy seas appear to have removed much of the oil which was washed ashore in the recent spill, and experts say the material left in the water would also have been broken up by now.

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But until hard-line international action is taken on the vessels carrying the oil and measures are put in place to protect vulnerable coasts, the threat of pollution will not disappear.

The public is deeply concerned about the issue and many people have been signing The Evening Star's Black Death petition calling for more action.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), said today more coastline that is home to wildlife needs to be designated as Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas from which international shipping is banned.

Suffolk would be a prime candidate for such action as its coast is already an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and home to the world famous Minsmere reserve.

But with Felixstowe port at its southernmost tip, it would be impossible to stop shipping using the area.

WWF spokesman Richard Dixon said: "We are still failing to protect our marine environment from toxic effects of spilt oil."

He said last year there were almost 700 accidental or deliberate marine pollution spills around the UK and ministers had failed to set up enough of the specially protected coastal areas.

Around 300 seabirds were killed and another 600 left covered in oil and needing specialist care after oil washed ashore on Suffolk's coast in November. Fist-sized sticky globules were found all along the coast, from Lowestoft to Felixstowe.

Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA), officials are now monitoring Britain's coast for any sign of oil from the Prestige tanker, which broke up off Spain with such devastating effects.

High tides have swept oil from the tanker onto the south-western coast of France and a major slick has been reported about 100 km offshore.

A spokeswoman for the MCA told The Evening Star: "None of the oil from the Prestige has been washed up on British shores at this stage and we would very much hope that would remain the case. However, we are keeping a close eye on the situation."

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