Sticky Prestige
December 19, 2002 9:54 AM   Subscribe

Photos and more photos from the Nautile’s firsts dives to the Prestige wreck, a single-hulled tanker that broke in two while it was towed to open sea after the discovery of a breach in its hull.

It has been an ecologic and economic disaster for Galicia, Spanish’ northwest coastal region famous for its seafood. But it also has been a political scandal for the PP (Partido Popular), in the government both in Galicia’s autonomic parliament and in the central government, because of its late response and efforts to hide the catastrophe manipulating the public broadcast system (and the friendly private networks). Too little, too late, Jose Maria Aznar.

While politicians throw shit to each other, a quarter of the 20.5 million gallons of fuel oil already spilled are now spreading through the coastline covering everything with what locals call “chapapote”, a sticky mix of sea water, fuel oil and sand. The Prestige sits now at 3.500 meters of depth, slowly leaking fuel oil to the surface. The Nautile, one of the few mini submarine that has been used to record and take pictures from the Titanic wreck, it’s being hired by the Spanish government to asses the situation (Spanish language link) and try to stop the leakage.

Popular action in the form of a white tide of volunteers has been phenomenal, forcing the government to act and assume responsibilities. But the issue at hand is much larger: will the European Union effectively ban single-hulled tankers? Why the rules that govern the seas permit flag of convenience ships that can elude so easily its responsibility?

See more images (slideshow).
posted by samelborp (12 comments total)
Ever heard of "More inside"?
posted by languagehat at 10:00 AM on December 19, 2002

Maybe the two situations aren't perfectly comparable, but what lasting effects are discernible from the Exxon Valdez spill today?

For that matter, a hell of a lot of Allied, German and Japanese tonnage sent to the bottom in two major wars has been steadily leaking oil all over two oceans. Has anybody ever attempted to survey the long-term effects of this oil pollution?

I'm not suggesting that over time it's a walk in the park and everything's gonna be just fine, but even with catastrophic spills, the biosphere does have a surprising capacity to adjust and recover.
posted by alumshubby at 10:07 AM on December 19, 2002

samelborp, I commend you for giving this issue the attention it needs. It's a travesty, and people are so inured to these travesties that I sometimes wonder if anyone pays attention anymore.

Just to prepare you, though: You will get some comments about the length of your post and the number of paragraph breaks. It is customary to try to keep posts down to about 1 para with possibly a "more inside" tag, and continue your info in the comments section. I would put this advice elsewhere, but maybe a comment here is sufficient for everyone?
posted by Shane at 10:22 AM on December 19, 2002

I am sorry, I knew about dividing large posts, but I couldn't find any info on how to make it. My fault.
posted by samelborp at 10:34 AM on December 19, 2002

Amazing pictures.
posted by rushmc at 10:39 AM on December 19, 2002

samelborp, to make your post smaller, with a [more inside], simply open up notepad and create your full post. When you are done, go to metafilter's create a post, cut and paste the first paragraph into the usual fields and add the [more inside] to the end of it. As soon as you've posted, cut and paste the rest of your post as the first comment in the thread.
posted by ashbury at 10:43 AM on December 19, 2002

Thanks ashbury, MeFi posting lesson learned.
posted by samelborp at 11:03 AM on December 19, 2002

Why the rules that govern the seas permit flag of convenience ships that can elude so easily its responsibility?
because rich bastards who don't give a crap about you, your children, or the planet WANT IT THAT WAY. they paid GOOD MONEY to have it that way, and by god, they'll pay good money to KEEP IT THAT WAY.
posted by quonsar at 12:19 PM on December 19, 2002

it's a nightmare for Galicia, but I have little sympathy for the Spanish government who were busy trying to tow the ship to offshore Africa when it broke up. who would have cleaned up if it had broken up there? bastardos
posted by gravelshoes at 12:51 PM on December 19, 2002

Yes, gravelshoes, this is the worst part of it.

At first, the Spanish government tried to move away the vessel, heading south, then the portuguese navy didn't allow it to continue, so they decided to go to open sea. The already damaged hull couldn't stand another hard turn, and the ship broke in two, and in the worst place possible.

If they can't seal the wreck, currents and winds in this area will put Galicia at risk for at least ten years.
posted by samelborp at 1:49 PM on December 19, 2002

I am sorry...

No problemas , samelborp !
posted by Shane at 6:31 PM on December 19, 2002

But the issue at hand is much larger: will the European Union effectively ban single-hulled tankers?

Maybe, but according to this Wired article, double-hulled tankers are particularly susceptible to "super-rust."
posted by hyperizer at 9:28 PM on December 23, 2002

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