Eco-disaster centre announced on anniversary of Prestige catastrophe

12th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

12 November 2004, MADRID- Two years after the Prestige tanker disaster, the Spanish government said it is to create a centre to prevent a similar ecological catastrophe happening again.

12 November 2004

MADRID- Two years after the Prestige tanker disaster, the Spanish government said it is to create a centre to prevent a similar ecological catastrophe happening again.

The deputy prime minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega said the Prestige disaster has cost the Spanish people EUR 1 billion.

Fernandez de la Vega said the government wanted to "invest to prevent".

The announcement comes two years after the Greek-owned "Prestige" oil tanker sank in Atlantic waters off the coast of north-western Spain, spilling thousands of tonnes of crude oil into the sea and coastline.

But only five individuals have been charged in connection with what has been called Europe's biggest environmental catastrophe in recent years.

Legal proceedings to determine responsibility in the oil spill have slowed to a virtual halt due to the complex nature of the investigations, judicial sources told EFE news agency on the  second anniversary of the disaster.

Spanish and U.S. courts continue to exchange evidence and documents in an effort to determine who is to blame for the shipwreck on 13 November, which left Spain's north-western coast coated in a thick black slime for months.

The Spanish judiciary is investigating what role the oil companies and their employees may have played in the oil spill and whether Spanish authorities may have mishandled the disaster.

Those charged in connection with the wreck include the ship's Greek captain, Apostolous Mangouras, chief engineer Nicolaos Angidolopoulos, first mate Irineo Maloto, the director of operations for Universe Maritime, Michael Margretis, and the former director general of the merchant navy, Jose Luis Lopez Sors.

Two separate trials are underway in the United States, where Spanish authorities filed suit against the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) - the authority responsible for certifying that the ship was fit to set sail.

Spain is suing the ABS for USD 1 billion in damages, an attempt to recuperate funds spent cleaning up the coastline and compensating the region's fishermen.

Spanish authorities claim the ABS inspectors were "negligent" and that the tanker should have never been allowed to leave port.

The ABS has denied the accusation and filed a counterclaim arguing that the cost of the damages rose exponentially due to Spain's mistaken decision to move the shipwrecked vessel farther off shore.

The "Prestige" leaked most of the 77,000 tonnes of fuel it was carrying when it sank, the majority of which has been cleaned up from waters and beaches along the Galician coast.

Some 13,000 tons of fuel was extracted from the ship's hull, according to official figures.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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