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Prestige disaster summary report, June 2004

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six years on, captain scapegoat mangouras expected to be acquitted at the echr [article in Spanish]

Context: “In November 2002, on the orders of Spanish authorities, an oil tanker in difficulties was dragged through a raging sea-storm away from the Spanish Galician coast, despite the advice and warnings of the soon-to-be arrested captain [2], and others. For six days, a damaged tanker was hauled through 30-, 40-metre waves and almost hurricane-force winds.

“The Prestige broke in two and sank, spilling tens of thousands of tonnes of residual heavy crude oil. She sank in deep waters, so very difficult to salvage the remainder of the oil before further ecological damage was done.”

It has been obvious since the first day that the disaster was overwhelmingly, primarily, caused by irresponsibility by the Spanish government in its attempts to scapegoat Mangouras and avoid their own responsibility. Captain Mangouras was sixty-nine at the time of the accident, and has so far suffered stress and other damage since 2002 at the hands of the political venality of the Spanish government.

Marker at abelard.orgMarker at abelard.orgMarker at abelard.org

The defence team of 75-year-old Captain Apostolos Mangouras, master of the ill-fated oil tanker Prestige, lodged a complaint at the Great Court of the the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg. This complaint has been accepted for deliberation.

The ECHR will investigate whether Spanish law was breached by the imposition of an excessive 3,000,000 euro bail and the holding Captain Mangouras in Spain for two years on the pretext that he was responsible for one of the most polluting spills ever experienced.

Remember that Captain Mangouras requested that the damaged tanker be taken to harbour, whereas the Spain authorities ordered the ship out into the teeth of a near hurricane-strength storm. Having been dragged into French waters and back to Spanish waters, bleeding filthy oil all the time, the tanker broke in half, its cargo spreading from Spain to the British Isles.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has just declared admissible the complaint lodged by Apostolos Mangouras claiming that Spain did not respect his right to liberty and security.

Captain Mangouras’s lawyers see this as “a very important step”. Statistically, the chances are high that this court will find for the Greek ship’s master. The Grand Chamber usually accepts only 3% of the complaints it receives, and of those admitted for deliberation, two-thirds of the cases are won by the complainants.

Spain has until February 2010 to explain why they had set the bizarrely high bail of three million euros. Further, Greece will now have an opportunity to make representations in this case.

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the web address for the article above is
https://www.abelard.org/news/oil040629.php#mangouras_echr_260609



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prestige oil disaster - latest spanish government whitewash debunked

- xavier

Context: “In November 2002, on the orders of Spanish authorities, an oil tanker in difficulties was dragged through a raging sea-storm away from the Spanish Galician coast, despite the advice and warnings of the soon-to-be arrested captain [2], and others. For six days, a damaged tanker was hauled through 30-, 40-metre waves and almost hurricane-force winds.

“The Prestige broke in two and sank, spilling tens of thousands of tonnes of residual heavy crude oil. She sank in deep waters, so very difficult to quickly salvage the remainder of the oil before further ecological damage was done.”

Marker at abelard.orgMarker at abelard.orgMarker at abelard.org

“The arguments of state lawyers defending the management of the José María Aznar’s Government during the Prestige accident do not convince Merchant Marine specialists in Galicia.”

The Bar of the Spanish Courts has just published a report, absolving former prime minister, José María Aznar, and his government of any responsibilty for the Prestige catastrophe.

But the only thing the Spanish government did correctly was airlift off crew from the troubled ship. They did not:

  • minimise pollution, as required by international law.
  • pay attention to the urgency and the details of the MayDay signals correctly and promptly sent by the ship’s master, Captain Mangouras.
  • rather than sending immediate help, the Spanish rescues services started negotiating fees.
  • take the vessel to a nearby harbour when the seas were calmer, so minimising the possibility of the ships break-up, as well as pollution from the escaping oil.
  • first inspect the ship to verify its condition, having decided to tow the ship to sea. [Paraphased from linked headline article]

    “For his part, Constantino Mendez believes that [the Prestige catastrophe] can not be considered an unavoidable accident, but is a disaster "that was poorly handled and so the result of incompetence" . Constantino Mendez is coordinating editor of the White Paper on the Prestige presented in November.”

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the web address for the article above is
https://www.abelard.org/news/oil040629.php#spanish_prestige_whitewash_080109

shell experiments on oil shale

“On one small test plot about 20 feet by 35 feet, on land Shell owns, they started heating the rock in early 2004. "Product" - about one-third natural gas, two-thirds light crude - began to appear in September 2004. They turned the heaters off about a month ago, after harvesting about 1,500 barrels of oil.

“While we were trying to do the math, O'Connor told us the answers. Upwards of a million barrels an acre, a billion barrels a square mile. And the oil shale formation in the Green River Basin, most of which is in Colorado, covers more than a thousand square miles - the largest fossil fuel deposits in the world.”

Claimed EROEI 3.5 : 1.

the web address for the article above is
https://www.abelard.org/news/oil040629.php#shell_shale_070905

the great oil wall of china

Hydrogen economy in China

“Decades behind developed nations when it comes to supporting a car culture, China may actually benefit from its very backwardness. All those bicycles mean there isn't a cumbersome - and entrenched - gasoline infrastructure to stand in the way of the next big thing. That's why China hopes to eventually bypass the oil-based auto culture and go right to a hydrogen economy. "Some theorists believe China has an advantage with fuel cells because it has no resistance," says General Motors vice president David Chen as he attends to a Shanghai dignitary at Bibendum. "It's been cut off from the world for 30 years. It may be in a unique situation to leapfrog." ”

“ His concern is ideological, but the problem is practical. After food, oil is the most important issue for Chinese economic planners. Without an increasing supply of oil, high GDP growth will be impossible, creating unemployment and social unrest, potentially threatening the government's hold on power. That's not all. Dependency on foreign oil, in Yang's opinion, inevitably leads to war [...]”

the web address for the article above is
https://www.abelard.org/news/oil040629.php#chinese_oil_020405

comments by cheney on oil

“KUDLOW: All right. Let's look at oil for a moment, if I may. Oil is once more marching up towards $60 a barrel. A lot of private-sector and Wall Street economists are marking down their economic growth and raising their inflation estimates. My question to you, sir, is, are White House economists doing the same thing? Does it now look like slower growth ahead as a result of this oil spike?

Vice Pres. CHENEY: I haven't seen that yet, Larry. We watch the same forecasts I think everybody else does, the blue chips and so forth, and obviously $60 oil begins to bite, have some impact on the economy. On the other hand, oil is much less important as a total part of our economy than it was 15 or 20 years ago. And we're still well below the all-time high in terms of the real ceiling when you allow for inflation. We have not gotten yet to the highs we were at back in the early '80s. So we think we'll be able to weather this, but there's no question energy is a problem, oil in particular. We did get through the Senate this week, I think, a major success story, approval to go forward on development of ANWR. We've been fighting for that for years. This is the first time we had the votes in the House and Senate to get that done.”

“ KUDLOW: Are you interested that some state legislators, most notably Virginia, are now making noises to start drilling their own oil off the outer continental shelf, the OCS? I mean, that's kind of taking matters into their own hands, but it could produce more power.

“Vice Pres. CHENEY: Yeah. Well, you've got to recognize that as a nation, we don't drill off the East Coast, we don't drill off the West Coast or the big areas of the country that are off limits. A lot of areas should be off limits for environmental reasons and so forth. But the fact of the matter is, there are significant resources out there we've never developed. We've made other decisions. When we get to $60 oil and gasoline prices well above $2 a gallon, I think people may take a more realistic look at what our priorities are.”

the web address for the article above is
https://www.abelard.org/news/oil040629.php#cheney_220305

at last, spanish political prisoner captain scapegoat temporarily released

After 1 year, ten months and 17 days of imprisonment in Spain,

“ [the] Greek captain of the sunken Prestige tanker, who was banned in late 2002 from leaving Spain pending trial, has been allowed to return to Greece, Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras said yesterday. Spanish authorities have said Apostolos Mangouras can go home on the condition that he returns to Spain to stand trial, Papaligouras said.”

Captain Scapegoat Mangouras spent the first ten months in a Spanish jail. This was commuted to house-arrest in Barcelona, reporting every day to a police station (later slightly moderated to once a week).

Now of course, the Spanish torture of a man nearing seventy years old continues because,

“ It is unclear when the trial is due to start.”

related material
Captain Scapegoat Mangouras
summary report on one of the worst coastal oil disasters ever

the web address for the article above is
https://www.abelard.org/news/oil040629.php#scapegoat_freed

prestige wreck: emptied at last [1]

The last 13,000 tonnes of heavy crude oil have been removed from the sunken wreck of the Prestige. The Prestige was a victim of Spanish governmental irresponsibility two years ago.

The summary report below provides some background to the saga of one of the worst marime environmental disasters ever.

the web address for the article above is
https://www.abelard.org/news/oil040629.php#last_oil

the Prestige oil disaster: more cleaning up [1]
summary report on one of the worst coastal oil disasters ever

In November 2002, on the orders of Spanish authorities, an oil tanker in difficulties was dragged through a raging sea-storm away from the Spanish Galician coast, despite the advice and warnings of the soon-to-be arrested captain [2], and others. For six days, a damaged tanker was hauled through 30-, 40-metre waves and almost hurricane-force winds. Little surprise that the poor lady collapsed.

The Prestige broke in two and sank, spilling tens of thousands of tonnes of residual heavy crude oil. She sank, but not in shallow waters, easy to access to salvage the remainder of the oil, quickly before further ecological damage was done. The bow sank down to 3,500 metres – three and a half kilometres, or two and a quarter miles – and the smaller stern section to 4,000 metres deep, there to gush oil.

The Spanish patched up the majority of leaks using a submarine, they wiped up oil where it could be seen on beaches, and started a big publicity drive to lure tourists back to their now oil-blackened northern coast. Would the Spanish have bothered to initiate research on extraction from such depths without external pressures?

Well, they did, eventually. By April 2003, the Spanish authorities were consulting foreign experts. Having eventually decided what to do, tests began in August 2003. By the time tests were regarded as successful, the approaching stormy winter prevented any oil-emptying and the wreck continued leaking.

Thus, is only now in mid-2004, over nineteen months after instigating one of the worst-ever oil spills, that the wreck of the Prestige starts to be emptied.

It is an engineering feat. Drilling holes in a wreck beneath 3500 metres of water, fixing valves so that the oil can be controlled as it is let rise out of the wreck, channelling the oil into one of five special aluminium containers (the Spanish call the shuttles) which are taken up to about 40 metres where the oil is pumped into a waiting tanker, the Odin, for shipping back to land. The emptied shuttle returns down to be filled again. The intention is to fill two shuttles simultaneously from the five holds in the bow section.

How much oil? The Spanish estimate that, of the 70,000 tonnes cargo, 14,000 tonnes remains in the ship, most in the bow section, about 1,000 tonnes in the stern. They have so far removed 1,000 tonnes. Their estimate is that by October, they will have removed all but 10% of the oil (11,700 tonnes). They then intend to use bacteria to speed the ‘natural’ breakdown of the remainder, and the oil that is in the stern section. How rapid and efficient this will be remains to be seen.

end notes

  1. News item in Spanish from El Mundo.
  2. abelard.org has made many reports on the plight of Captain Scapegoat Mangouras (like at this link), who has now been under house-arrest in Barcelona for 18 months.

the web address for the article above is
https://www.abelard.org/news/oil040629.php#summary


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