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BBC Wales's Jon Manel
"Ironically, it seems this disaster will have a much greater effect on the Welsh bird population than the Sea Empress"
 real 28k

Monday, 24 January, 2000, 13:31 GMT
Charity demands action after oil spill

Oily bird Thousands of young birds which breed in Wales were affected by the oil spill


The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in Wales is demanding new safety standards for oil tankers.

It fears that up to thousands birds which breed in Pembrokeshire have been killed in the Erika disaster off the French coast.

The charity believes that damage to the Welsh colonies will be greater than when the Sea Empress ran aground in Milford Haven.


Erika The oil tanker Erika sinks off the French coast
Up to half a million birds in total are feared to have died in the spill after the tanker split in half off the coast of Brittany just before Christmas.

The RSPB says many of them are young birds which would have been breeding around the Welsh coast.

Now the charity says urgent action must be taken to avoid a similar disaster in future years.

"We believe the government should be talking to organisations which police the sea," said Dr Tim Stowe, Drirector of the RSPB in Wales.

"We had the Sea Empress disaster and we made the same call then.

"It doesn't seem that a lot has been learned since then. We have got to do something."


Dead bird Up to half a million birds are feared dead
Thierry Desmarais the Chairman and Managing Director of TotalFina - the oil company involved in the disaster TotalFina - said he was in favour of setting up a monitoring body at a European level.

He also said he intended to contribute towards the costs of repairing the damage.

"The estimate of our financial commitment to the pumping operation is in the order of 400m francs (about 40m)," he said.

"But I would say that this is not a limit. If the pumping operation costs more, we will pay for it in its entirety.

"In the longer term, in order to restore the ecological balance, we have set up a Foundation for the Sea, which will have a budget of 50m francs and which will look at fragile ecosystems with a view to re-establishing the biodiversity which existed before the oil slick."

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See also:
31 Dec 99 |  Europe
Oil firm offers clean-up cash
28 Dec 99 |  Europe
Jospin pledges action on oil tankers
28 Dec 99 |  UK
Oil birds arrive in UK
26 Dec 99 |  Europe
Oil spill takes its toll
05 Jan 00 |  Europe
Oil spill damage worsens
17 Dec 99 |  Europe
Clean-up crews battle 'thick' oil slick
22 Jan 00 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Brittany's battle with oil
23 Jan 00 |  Europe
Demand for oil tanker controls

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