I went to the Atlantic coast in 2000, exactly to "Les Sables-d'Olonne", with the LPO (League for the Protection of Birds)after the sinking of the ERIKA.
It was a voluntary work for the rescue of the wildlife. But it was a total failure, we had only dead birds, no survivors! In any case, I was marked by this oil on the beaches, its smell, its weight on the animals and the damage on the coastline.
When I read the news about the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, I can't forget what I experienced. First of all, it is a catastrophe for the local economy and the population that lives from the sea. Namely, this tragedy is the worst tragedy in American history. However, since the sinking of the EXXON VALDEZ off the coast of Alaska (March 24, 1989), one would have thought that the United States was prepared for all the ecological disasters linked to oil spills. We must believe that they were not. Others will say that one was a ship and BP is an oil base. The United States has imposed double hulls for all ships sailing in its territorial waters. But what have we found to stop an oil leak?
What makes me jump is that the BP company, according to the press, guaranteed that its technology ensured optimal safety at sea against any leak and could foresee all the worst scenarios. If this was true, how come the backup systems didn't work? Minimizing installation costs?
Despite this tragedy, oil from the Gulf represents one third of the country's national production, and hundreds of platforms are operating at full capacity off the coast. This incident was not the first. However, the problem occurred on a recent modern base. It was built after 2001!
Thousands of people are going to lose their jobs, who were slowly getting their heads above water since Hurricane Katrina. But nothing is going to stop the construction of new drillings because the American demand is strong and they want to depend less on foreign countries. But you have to understand that in spite of its awful aspect and the devastation caused by this oil, it is still minimal compared to the discharges of the factories in the oceans. Stéphanie Raynaud and I said in our report entitled "Pollution and its effects on cetaceans (2002)" this: "The most harmful pollution for the fragile balance of marine life are not the most visible. On the contrary, they are the least visible. Organochlorines, heavy metals and various discharges, often illicit, constitute the greatest threat to the survival of marine mammals.
I understand very well the gravity of the misfortune but it is temporary over time.
With kind regards.
Montreal - Canada - May 2010.