It CAN happen here


Here is an example from Wales – an oil spill could never happen there. This shows how an accident affects the little guy.


Oil Spill In Wales – It CAN happen here!

This is the story of Steve; someone working in the tourist industry in Wales in 1996…

“The oil tanker ‘Sea Empress’ ran aground at the entrance to Milford Haven in spring 1996.  This is very similar to the Sutors in layout.   It was carrying Persian Gulf crude to the Texaco Milford Haven Refinery.

The subsequent oil spill inundated the Pembrokeshire coast (a National Park).  The effect on the local wildlife was devastating as there are internationally important sea bird breeding sites within the area.  These include Skomer Island with probably about 60% of the world’s breeding Manx Shearwaters as well as a gannetry.  Most of the tourist beaches were covered in oil and there was a major operation to rescue oiled seabirds.


The effect on tourism was almost instantaneous.  Steve had been running a coastal footpath guiding company for three years and had started to build a good reputation with the following season nearly fully booked.  The message got out that Pembrokeshire was a disaster area and that it was closed.  Immediately bookings were cancelled across the whole county and the tourist industry virtually ceased that year to the tune of millions of pounds.  Many of the small tourist businesses such as B&Bs, cafes, shops and businesses such as Steve’s went under.  It took 5 to 6 years before the tourist economy started to return to its pre-disaster level. Steve’s business never recovered and he went on to do other things.

Steve said that there was no compensation scheme even though there was a proven direct link between the spill and the tourist decline.

Texaco tried to do “some” good with no doubt one eye on the publicity.  They removed the cobble beach at Martin’s Haven which is the slip way for the tourist boats to Skomer.  This was done to a depth of 20 feet and all the cobbles were taken away and cleaned and returned to the beach.  What was soon noted by the locals was that the slipway was next to the office of the Welsh Marine Conservation Society and that Texaco used this for maximum publicity about their “concern” and action”.

Why should things be ANY different if this happened in the Moray Firth