“Great America”: with front-end loaders and struts floating, The Rochelle is ready

"Grande America": avec tractopelles et boudins flottants, La Rochelle est prête

Backhoes, gloves, absorbent products, and flanges floating : La Rochelle (Charente-Maritime), everything is ready to combat a pollution threat to the coast after the wreck of the Italian vessel Grande America.

On the old port, the mayor KVD of the city Jean-François Fountaine looks at the sea in connoisseur. For the former skippeur, who has studied the weather maps, “the water will arrive Wednesday, or even later,” he said to the AFP.

Since Tuesday, when has sunk this ship hybrid between a ro-ro ship and a container ship, two oil slicks drift towards the coasts of Gironde and Charente-Maritime, the two departments placed in “pre-alert” to anticipate any risk of pollution.

“At the level of the town hall,” says the elected la rochelle, “we have gathered all of the gear road trucks, backhoes, truck cranes, material suction, absorbent products, as well as 150 municipal officials competent for this type of intervention. They are mobilized as soon as the plan Polmar Land will be triggered by the prefecture,” he said.

The city has also placed a pre-order of personal protection equipment : gloves, coveralls, based on the scenario more dramatic.

In parallel, it has launched a control photo of the beaches to be able to establish a zero point before the black tide, for the insurance. Water samples are collected to establish the state of health of the sea pollution and the samples are studied under the control of the regional Agency of health.

The port des Minimes, one of the largest marinas in Europe, has also “twenty personal trained to fight pollution, 56 employees,” says Anne Fontanaud, its head of Quality-Safety-Environment.

“We have 200 metres of floating barriers, with a skirt that contains the pollution, and 100 meters of struts floating, a boat of 7 metres and the other five to work, smaller. Our role is to prevent the pollution from entering the port, but if needed, they are available to the plan Polmar Land and could be used for the old port or elsewhere.”

– The fear of the “pellets” –

In this region famous for its farming of oysters, it also takes its provisions.

“We have our stocks for this year and for next year, which are in the sea. You can’t take out the oysters, it was not clear as at Marennes-Oléron. The only thing we can do is get a part and pass it into a basin with clean water,” said Armand Bernard, oyster farmer at Aytré that student also with his grandson of the oysters in the sea to the pointe du Grouin, on the island of Ré.

But he does not want to be worried : “It’s not Amoco,” says the sexagenarian about the oil tanker Amoco Cadiz which the shipwreck has led to a spectacular oil spill in Brittany in 1978.

“Next week, there will be a high tide and good weather, this should create a wave of earth that it won’t affect our coasts”, is believed to know Mr. Bernard, who cleans its oysters on a work table.

“Everything will depend on the behavior of the pollution,” says Anne Fontanaud, “if there is a sheen of water, pellets or a sheet compact”, she adds.

The mayor of La Rochelle, he too feared the “balls” of oil and has already launched calls for the collection of waste on which they could stick.

A few high school students have already, without really knowing it, answered the call. On the pebbly beach near the old town, they pick up bottles, old bits of fishing nets, plastic bags.

Caline Daveau, the mother of one of them, along with : “What future will we leave for our children ? We will leave a planet corrupted, polluted. This +black tide+ is dramatic for the nature, the wildlife. It is a drama”, she said in arguing for “our children have a future”.