Great America: the threat of pollution in the Gironde and Charente-Maritime

Grande America: menace de pollution en Gironde et Charente-Maritime

Two oil slicks are drifting now to more than 300 km off the coast of La Rochelle after the sinking of the Italian ship Great America and threaten the coasts of Gironde and Charente-Maritime, the two departments placed in “pre-alert” to anticipate any risk of pollution.

“There are, at this stage, two tablecloths, one that had been recorded yesterday evening and another was found this morning,” said Thursday the minister of the ecological Transition François de Rugy, after a stint at the crisis center set up at the maritime prefecture of the Atlantic to Brest.

The two aquifers are derived, “full is”, at a speed of 35 km per day approximately, pointed out Stéphane Doll, director of the Cedre (Centre of documentation, research and experimentation on accidental water pollution). The two aquifers are approximately 300 km of La Rochelle (Charente-Maritime) and not expected to reach the coast for several days.

“One has a length of 13 km and a width of 7 km, it presents an aspect quite compact, the second is a length of 9 km and a width of 7 km, it has an aspect a little more fragmented. These two aquifers are approximately distant about twenty miles,” said the spokesman of the maritime prefecture Riaz Akhoune. The second is the vertical position of the wreck, which rests at a depth of 4,600 meters.

The Great America sank Tuesday to 333 km to the west of La Rochelle with hazardous materials and 2.200 tonnes of heavy fuel oil in its bunkers, following a fire on board. He was also carrying 2.210 vehicles. Its 27 occupants were rescued unharmed and returned to Brest.

“Our goal is to pump everything that can be pumped,” assured Francois de Rugy at Brest, in referring to “windows weather in the coming days, to lull both in the wind and the sea”. The current conditions, with very rough seas and waves of 4 meters, does not allow for the time to proceed with the operations of the pump.

– Of the complaints considered –

In the morning, M. de Rugy had assured that the State would do “everything” to reduce the impact of pollution and announced measures, such as sending reconnaissance aircraft and the possible deployment of a submarine robot to assess the situation. The investigation by the prosecutor’s office will “raise history” of the ship and watch “if there is a responsibility of the shipowner or of the crew,” he assured.

The Prime minister Edouard Philippe has assured Thursday that the government was following “obviously with a lot, a lot, a lot of attention” to the consequences of the sinking to “minimize the risk” of pollution.

The device of pollution control is coordinated in the area since the building of the Argonaute, in conjunction with the crisis centre of the maritime Prefecture of the Atlantic to Brest. Four other boats enhance these resources, including one chartered by the european Agency for maritime safety (EMSA).

This device will allow them to “proceed as far as possible to the pumping of residues of heavy fuel oil,” said de Rugy. A drone will also be sent to perform an aerial monitoring of the groundwater.

In a press release the Grimaldi Group, the owner of the boat, said to have sent a boat on site to “control the presence of ground fuel and organize the recovery of containers floating”. The group will also conduct an underwater inspection of the wreck, at the request of the maritime prefect, using a ship equipped with a underwater vehicle.

The departments of Gironde and Charente-Maritime have placed their services in “pre-alert” in the prepositioning means anti-pollution necessary.

The oyster farmers of the atlantic seaboard have also been invited to take their precautions, in particular a maximum of their products in closed circuit with tank systems to isolate them from the marine environment.

The syndicat mixte du littoral breton Vigipol, which represents 130 communities, has announced its intention to file a complaint with constitution of civil part. “The door-containers, in the management of its cargo, just to demonstrate his ability to the transport of dangerous goods,” said the union in a press release.

The organization Robin hood has also announced its intention to file a complaint. The associations of the movement, France nature environnement, Brittany Nature Environment, France Nature Environment, the Countries of the Loire and Nature Environment 17 are also studying the possibility of filing complaints and shed light on the responsibilities,” according to a press release.