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Tuesday, November 19, 2002

A Greek-owned, single-hulled oil tanker The Prestige has broken up and gone down approximately 250 miles from the Spanish coastline.

The consequences of the Prestige's 70,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil being spilt into the sea for local people and wildlife are likely to be severe and long-lasting.

As an example of the long-term consequences of this sort of disaster here's a story on how Alaska's Prince William Sound is faring over 10 years after the sinking of the Exxon Valdez...

Through the use of flags of convenience numerous "rust-bucket" oil tankers are able to navigate the world's seas and this has resulted in countries banding together and signing the Paris Memorandum which permits them to conduct seaworthiness checks on 18,000 vessels last year. At present much firmer action seems unlikely, with single-hulled oil tankers not being banned by the EU until 2015.