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 Monday, 25 November, 2002, 16:29 GMT
Salvage crews head to Spanish disaster
The Prestige
The Prestige has sunk off the Spanish coast
Pollution experts who helped in the Sea Empress disaster off Pembrokeshire are on their way to Spain to help deal with effects of an oil spill from the sunken tanker, the Prestige.

Crews and marine salvage equipment from a centre in Milford Haven have been mobilised to help the clean-up operation.

Sea Empress
The Sea Empress ran aground in Milford Haven

Workers from the Marine Pollution Salvage Centre worked on the Sea Empress disaster six years ago.

On Monday, the equipment was being transported to Portsmouth harbour to be put on a ferry to northern Spain.

The centre is the only one of its kind in the UK, and is run for the Marine and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

It has been on standby since last week.

The centre's Managing Director Simon Rickaby said: "We're contractually obliged to assist with any disaster off the UK coast, but this time we have been asked by the Government to give our specialist knowledge.

"There are always different oils involved, different sea conditions, and different weather conditions, but we can handle it.

"We have 40 years experience of this kind of thing and the kit to deal with it.

An oil-covered sea bird
Thousands of sea birds were affected

"We are sending four people plus two truckloads of booms, oil scoops and all the resources we have."

The booms are used to encompass an area of sea to trap the oil.

Scoops or skimmers with rotary disks then slice through and pull the oil off the surface into another vessel.

The oil is then landed and taken for safe disposal elsewhere.

The team should arrive in northern Spain on Thursday.

Experienced

The same equipment was used during the Sea Empress disaster in 1996 which spilled 72,000 tonnes of crude oil affecting 200km of the west Wales coastline.

The crew from Pembrokeshire will join other specialist teams from France and the Netherlands who are already tackling oil from the site of the shipwreck.

About 600 volunteers are working to scrape away oil which has washed up on shore.

The oil has reached more than 130 beaches and has had a devastating effect on the area's fishing and tourism industries.


More from south west Wales
See also:

20 Nov 02 | Europe
02 Jan 02 | Wales
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