Saturday, November 04, 2006


I just came from the last session of the 3-day 5th Symposium on the Atlantic Iberian Margin held at Aveiro University and was most pleased to attend one of the morning conferences presented by Federico Vilas (Marine and Environmental Geology Group, Vigo University). His presentation focused on the scientific aspects related to the Prestige accident. No causes, no legal implications, no liability issues, “just” the lessons learnt from the scientific point of view.
To a public composed mostly by Portuguese and Spanish university teachers and students as well as researchers on marine sciences, he explained the behaviour of the fuel buried on the beach sands, the interactions between fuel and sediments, the geomorphology of the sea bottom where the Prestige is sunk, the use of numerical models to predict the drifting and dispersion of the fuel slick and the importance of the hydrodynamics in the entire process.

Now that we are approaching the 4th anniversary of the accident it came to my mind that we, as coastal states, are not yet prepared to avoid the reoccurrence of such a disaster, or worst, I believe no country can properly handle this kind of events that take place under extreme weather conditions, thus limiting the salvage efforts.
On the other hand there are a lot of legislative packages (mainly EU) being issued in order to cope with these issues, which may or may not prove to be successful. Only time will tell.
The purpose of this post is however to make tribute to our dear Galician friends for their efforts in the cleaning up process (and, at least for the first days, without government help) that was an example of solidarity for the entire world.


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