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The BBC's Jon Sopel reports from Brittany
"Help has been coming in from all over Europe"
 real 28k

Thursday, 20 January, 2000, 17:54 GMT
Chirac calls for tough pollution laws

oil clean up The slick has devastated 400km of coastline


French President Jacques Chirac has called for tough laws to prevent pollution as he visited towns affected by the huge oil slick which devastated France's western coast.

Mr Chirac's backing for stricter maritime transport legislation follows a French transport ministry report which found that the sinking of the oil tanker Erika off Brittany in December was probably caused by structural weakness.



It is not acceptable that once again our coastline is victim to an oil slick like this
President Chirac

Oil from the Erika's 25,000-tonne load has affected 400km (250 miles) of coastline, killing or injuring an estimated 300,000 sea birds.

The president said the slick, released when the tanker broke in two, was an ecological and economic disaster, adding that he was outraged and angry at "seeing the French shoreline once again disfigured".


President Chirac The president wants tougher envionmental codes

"It is not acceptable for local communities to pay the price for those engaged in a mad race for profit," he said in Le Croisic, which has suffered some of the worst damage.

"It is not acceptable that once again our coastline is victim to an oil slick like this."

The north Brittany coast was previously devastated by the huge Amoco Cadiz oil spill in 1978.

Stricter inspections

Mr Chirac said he had set four objectives to prevent further disasters.

"I am going to push for stricter inspections, much more severe laws on security, more transparency, and better compensation," he said.


Tanker Erika The slick was released when the tanker broke in two

Mr Chirac also called for tougher controls on ships flying so-called convenience flags from Malta or Cyprus which operate less strict environmental legislation.

Environmentalists have been calling for new shipping regulations banning single-hull tankers like the Erika from being used in European waters.

"We must impose a high price for accidents like this, which would serve as a deterrent for ship owners and companies that charter such boats," the French president said.

He added that the French insurance system needed to be overhauled to ensure polluters pay for oil disasters.

Mr Chirac said the European Union must also impose stricter controls at ports and should launch an EU-wide research programme on oil slicks.

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See also:
14 Jan 00 |  Europe
Wrecked tanker 'structurally weak'
07 Jan 00 |  UK
Oil slick threatens tourist coast
05 Jan 00 |  Europe
Oil spill damage worsens
31 Dec 99 |  Europe
Oil firm offers clean-up cash
28 Dec 99 |  Europe
Jospin pledges action on oil tankers
12 Dec 99 |  Europe
Crew saved from stricken tanker
08 Jan 00 |  Europe
French demand more spill damages

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