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“PRESTIGE” The Black Tide
After drifting and then taken in tow, the tanker “PRESTIGE” was the victim of a leak during a storm on November 13th 2002 which caused a Black Tidal Wave. The ship consequently broke in two on the morning of November19th and foundered more than 150 miles from Cape Finisterre in 3500 metres of water, liberating a large quantity of heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) estimated between 11000 and 12000 tonnes.

The first Black Tide washed ashore on the coasts of Galicia in North west Spain, but a far larger portion is going to spread out into the Bay of Biscay.

It has now been established that the pollution impact of the “PRESTIGE” will be geographically far greater than all listed Black Tidal Waves; because in the first place, this HFO, toxic and very viscous, doubles its volume and its weight when emulsified in sea water, and will soil and contaminate sites spread over many miles of coast.

In the second place, there is undeniably a major risk that several tens of thousands of tonnes of HFO will surface from the wreck at weekly, monthly or even yearly intervals thereby causing a “Beach Contamination Time Bomb”.

This surfacing, which is happening at present, is limited so far to the escape of the oil from ventilators and PV valves and is comparable to ribbons of liquorice rising sinuously to the surface. There are therefore some leaks and these leaks could lead to a disaster if the tanks break up under a pressure of 350 bars (or Kilos/cm2) and the HFO has not solidified.

This major catastrophe can be avoided if the tanks do not break up and the fuel oil in the tanks solidifies when it will have reached the ambient temperature of the sea water at that depth.

When the prestige was still afloat, the HFO was being heated and therefore fluid. It was still fluid when the ship broke in two and foundered. and it is this fact which explains why large oil slicks have twice escaped from the tanks and formed a ‘chocolate carpet’.

At a depth of 3500 metres, the HFO contained in the tanks will not solidify until its temperature falls to the temperature of the surrounding sea water which at that depth is 3 deg.C.

It is therefore necessary to wait until a perfect harmony of temperature between the sea water and the fuel oil contained in the tanks is established before a statement can be made:-
Either that the HFO has solidified in the tanks and there is no more immediate risk of pollution; or a catastrophe can arrive if the fuel oil has not solidified and surfaces in large quantities if the tanks break up. But even solidified, the fuel can detach itself from the walls of the tanks and float to the surface.

We can therefore state that pollution from the derelict can exist continuously and over a long period of solidified HFO surfacing from the derelict, and free to circulate, which and can reach other zones not yet polluted.

The following very pertinent question is going to be posed; Should the tanker not have been allowed to enter into the sheltered waters off Finisterre, even if it meant seeing the ship capsize, break in two, founder and cause a devastating Black Tidal Wave, worse than that of the “EXXON VALDEZ” and which would have killed off all the species of wildlife on the Galician and North Portuguese coasts.

How would the HFO remaining in the intact tanks have been pumped out? What could have been done with the wreck or wrecks if the vessel had broken in two? How could the ecological and economic “death” of the province have been justified? How could adequate logistics be managed seeing that the road infrastructures of West Galicia are derisory?

Having analysed the situations, we can affirm that the Spanish Government made the right decision in towing the ship further out to sea and letting her sink in 3500 metres of water, so that the authorities would have time to prepare solutions and manage the one or more Black Tidal Waves yet to arrive.

However, the sword of Damocles hangs over the heads of three States.

The accident happened faster than we thought, but we have done the maximum to alert and to be vigilant against the risks of Black Tidal Waves.

As a matter of urgency, we must protect the ports, resources; and other sites but sometimes we note that oil on a beach is less problematical to treat than if it is caught in the rocks causing a large consummation of time, work and resources.

The Black Tide of Galicia, will cost infinitely more than the cleaning up of the Landaise coasts.

Other developments will lead us to give our point of view on the catastrophic sites following on to the catastrophe of the Prestige.

Is it necessary to be vigilant, confident and doubt the worst? From the Point de Raz to Bayonne, nothing can give us freedom from the fear of having to combat the pollution.

Germain Ghorbal
Master Mariner
The association “GLAMARNO INTERNATIONAL” was created in February 2000 following the sinking of the tanker “ERIKA” south of the Brittany coast on December 12th 1999. This shipwreck caused an extensive black tidal wave soiling some 250 miles of the coastline with heavy, vicious, nearly non-volatile hydrocarbon.

In May 1978, The north coast of Brittany received its first black tidal wave. It was immense, nearly 260,000 tonnes of Crude Oil poured out from the cargo tanks of the “AMOCO CADIZ” and washed up on the rugged coastline. Luckily the oil was lighter and more volatile,

GLAMARNO, made up of a group of several French Master Mariners is actively intervening to define the different aspects of the shipwreck and the treatment of the black tidal wave and attempting to find realistic solutions .

Thanks to the experience and competence of its members, GLAMARNO (Groupe de Lutte Anti Marée Noire) proposes help and support to communities situated on the coast. It is only one of the group’s wide range of activities, which are namely;-

- Maritime safety; Tanker transport; studies concerning ship design for pollution prevention; the fight against pollution caused by hydrocarbons or tank cleaning.

In one year, GLARMARNO published two guideline manuals destined for 400 coastal communities. They are
- Black Tidal Wave Guidelines for the French Coastline.
- Guidelines for the Projected Management of a Black Tidal Wave.

These documents have been sent to the authorities and propose a complete plan for situations concerning prevention; emergency plans and, above all, a detailed approach to the Projected Financial Management of a Black Tidal Wave in all its economic aspects; also compensation for damages vulnerable to be caused by this scourge.

GLAMARNO has therefore, for the first time in France, developed a global aspect of the black tidal wave problem under the form of a plan proposing numerous solutions:-

- To involve the communities in crisis management participation.
- To considerably improve the strategy and efficiency of preventive measures.
- Definition of a real governmental policy regarding medium and long term projected financial management.
- To approach all the procedures of the economic impact in a methodical way and to propose a simple and rational methodology to help the coastal populations prepare their Indemnity Demand Dossiers for Loss Reparations more efficiently.

In one year, GLAMARNO has interested itself in all the problems resulting from these catastrophes from which some lessons can be drawn immediately.

Our association has now become “GLAMARNO INTERNATIONAL” because its major objective is to share its conceptions with other countries in order to heighten the awareness of governments and populations to the devastating effects of black tidal waves and thus, to better prepare themselves to reduce the risks of one.

The program of “GLAMARNO INTERNATIONAL” is spread out over a long term, but in the year 2002 our current work will be directed towards the following countries:-
- The British Isles
- Italy

In 2003, it will be the turn of Spain and other Anglophone and Hispanic countries.

In the following years, by virtue of the experience gained and interest shown, the development will be orientated towards other European Union countries and other continents.

It is our ambition to constitute a truly “International chain” of population awareness concerning Black Tidal Waves, because the risks are always there.

WE ARE LOOKING FOR representatives of each country who could integrate themselves into our team thereby significantly augmenting the efficiency of our association.

We will reply to all questions.

For all of us, and to all of you, “Good Luck”.
We are a Group fighting against Oil Pollution on our beaches (or Black Tidal Waves) and who also defend the interests of coastal populations during the period of damage reparations caused by these catastrophes, both nationally and internationally.

From Maritime Safety through to the damage reparation dossiers, GLAMARNO INTERNATIONAL is a player proposing realistic solutions for preventive or critical situations.
12TH December 1999 the tanker ERIKA sunk off the coast of South Brittany causing the second largest Black Tidal Wave France has ever known, only the AMOCO CADIZ in 1978 was greater.

From February 8th 2000, the GLAMARNO association was created and was immediately involved in all the studies concerning this catastrophe and to try and make a contribution: upstream of the Black Tidal Wave and its immediate consequences.

A limited number of colleagues and various other members have since joined the three resolute Master Mariner founder members. The numbers are intentionally kept small so that the experts who form the core of the Group can act quickly, thanks to the experience and competence of all the members.

The Registered Office of the association is in Nice, close to the Italian border and the Principality of Monaco where there are many international authorities. Nice is endowed with an international airport so that European capital and other major cities are no more than a few hours away from this Mediterranean resort.

Thanks to the scope of international transport and the meteoric development of telecommunications, GLAMARNO INTERNATIONAL has the necessary tools at its disposal to carry out its activities and assure future development.

May 2000 GLAMARNO published its first guide entitled “ Black Tidal Wave Guidelines for the French Coastline” It was received by 400 coastal communities at the time when cleaning up operations from ERIKA’s Black Tidal Wave were in full swing - but before the operations to pump out her cargo tanks had started. The population of Southern Brittany were traumatised by this event. This publication moreover, demonstrates the main guidelines of the Projected Management of a Black Tidal Wave, something nobody yet dares speak about despite the two “warning shots over the bow” in March 1978 and December 1999. Some plans are in preparation but “the Black Tidal Wave culture is absent from the debate”.

March 2001 Following the first Guide, GLAMARNO decided, as a matter of urgency, to tackle in practical terms, the difficult problems encountered by the authorities in treating a black tidal wave and its consequences. A second guide was published; the “Guidelines for the Projected Management of a Black Tidal Wave” during the period when compensation and reparations were being settled; and clarifying, in its preamble, the historical reasons why difficulties still persist in this respect.
Some 400 copies destined for the Government, Ministries, Prefects, Maritime Prefects, Regions, Departments, communities and parliamentarians were diffused and largely commented on.

The television chain TV BREIZH (channel 22) with international range, consecrated 2 programmes in April 2001 enabling the president of GLAMARNO to expound the philosophy of the proposed concept. Which is:-
“To develop a genuine Prevention culture and adapt it to the best modern resources in order to minimise the risks.

April 2001 – GLAMARNO decides to work in the European sector and an experienced British Master Mariner joins the team to initiate certain propositions and study the possibilities of applying them.

Afterwards the decision was taken, - to pursue the “International” route - and a plan was established to study a programme for action in Europe.

JANUARY 2002 : The study was launched, in parallel with an “All Continents” project which will be pursued during the years to come. This ultimate stage justifies our new symbol:

1- To participate in all the problems concerning the prevention of and the fight against coastal pollution by hydrocarbons (Black Tidal Waves or Tank Cleaning).

2- To participate in the ongoing work concerning Maritime Safety and Tanker Transportation by Sea (construction, exploitation of ships, diverse risks, crew training, etc.).

3- To benefit Coastal communities by using the group’s specialised knowledge regarding prevention and risk evaluation in the event of a Black Tidal Wave.

4- To elaborate on and diffuse the “Black Tidal Wave Guidelines”

5- To apply the recommendations contained in the Guidelines for the Projected Management of a Black Tidal Wave.

6- To bring help and advice to organisations and coastal populations regarding risk evaluation on the economic plan and the reparation of losses and damages.

7- To collaborate with governmental authorities, regional maritime groups, territorial and other organisations concerned with the problems of marine pollution.

8- To develop an international action plan: European Community and other continents from 2002 onwards.

9- To make sure that the current rules are followed and the preparation of international dossiers.

10- To contribute in the widest possible diffusion of information concerning the prevention and fight against Black Tidal Waves.
The president of Glamarno International enters into dialogue with Captain A.C.Collop of the British Merchant Navy.

Germain Ghorbal – Tony, you have discovered GLAMARNO by accident one year after its creation. You have spontaneously asked to join. What were your motives.

Anthony Collop. – Curiosity. It is true that I discovered Glamarno by accident. I was lighting the fire in my fireplace when I saw your advert in the page of newspaper I was just about to burn.

GG – You are a retired British Captain of VLCCs of 400,000 tonnes, you have had a long career in the merchant navy and in management as a Superintendent in Kuwait.
Why are you so passionately interested in the pollution problems due to a Black Tidal Wave.?

A.C. - Having lived in a seaside resort in England and in France too, I can imagine my feelings if a Black Tidal Wave arrived in my neighbourhood can visualise the devastation caused and the feelings of despair and anger felt by the population, especially those whose livelihoods depend on the sea.

GG - You like to write and have frequently written extremely interesting articles on maritime subjects and have sent them to magazines such as “Seaways” and “Safety at Sea” etc.
You are a member of the “Nautical Institute” and also fascinated by the “Black Tidal Wave Guidelines” published by Glamarno. Why?

A.C.– Because I believe that they fill many gaps that until now have not been a addressed by any person or government. You have covered everything in the two Guidelines and I congratulate you.

G.G. - After having passed a trial period, you are now, at the end of several months, in charge of the International sector of Glamarno International. The targets of the “group fighting against black tidal waves” are ambitious, because all the continents figure in our program of activities over the next few years.
Has your motivation and curiosity been fully satisfied when you discovered that Glamarno offers you the possibility to show your competence in such large horizons?

A.C. - Yes. I feel fully satisfied.

G.G. – Our international program can be measured by the ambitions manifested by pioneers and adventurers.
In 2002, we venture into the unknown, but since we are working for the general interest and the results of our action can benefit some millions of people, do you think that our “task” is exciting and that specialists from many countries will not be slow to join us?

A.C. – Yes, I think the task is exciting, but I think it could be difficult to convince all the countries – especially the English speaking ones. However , we must make the effort and we will win in the end.
G.G. - What we are doing,, nobody has ever done before. We are going then where we hope to be closely observed. We will also make some discoveries thanks to the contacts we will establish in diverse countries.
Do you not feel a certain apprehension of duty attack you for the first time in a mission for which you have no references or in a world where nobody waits for you?

A.C. – Yes, I am apprehensive, as you say I have never frequented this world of high finance and governmental seats.

G.G. – The studies that you have undertaken for Glamarno concerning the underwater detection of oil slicks continues. Do you think the solution can be found by installing special devices on board the tankers or should we pursue the studies in other directions?

A.C. – I believe it is possible to make the installations on board provided it is not necessary to purge the product from the cargo oil. If that is the case, then it would be better to let the refineries cope with loading discharging and purging out the product. There are other possibilities which we can discuss later.

G.G. Tony, sincerely, is it more difficult or less difficult to reply to the challenges thrown at you by Glamarno or to pilot a loaded VLCC through a narrow shallow channel?

A.C. – More difficult. I am used to driving VLCCs and UMCCs fully loaded in the Dover Straits or Malacca Straits or anywhere else.; but I have no previous experience to conduct negotiations at the necessary levels.

G.G. – At Glamarno International are you now convinced that the atmosphere is convivial and that Anglo French friendship is not a vain word?

A.C. - Yes, the atmosphere between us is very cordial but I am not so certain for Anglo-French friendliness. Sometimes the two nations get along well together, other times they detest each other. I believe that things will improve between them as partners of the EU.

G.G. - Thank you Tony and Good Luck.