Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Braer disaster reminder of constant need for vigilance

SUNK:  The Braer tanker went aground  off Shetland in January 1993, spilling 85,000 tonnes of crude oil into the sea, prompting   compensation claims
SUNK: The Braer tanker went aground off Shetland in January 1993, spilling 85,000 tonnes of crude oil into the sea, prompting compensation claims

The 20th anniversary of a major oil spill in Scottish waters is a reminder of the need to be vigilant about environmental and safety issues in the North Sea. That was the message from Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead yesterday as he highlighted the fate of the tanker Braer, which ran aground off Shetland in January 1993. The disaster caused 85,000 tonnes of oil to pour into the sea, making it one of the world’s biggest oil spills.

It led to lengthy battles for compensation worth tens of millions of pounds from people who said they had suffered financial loss or ill health as a result of the incident.

Ferry operators and salmon farmers were among the businesses seeking compensation. Local fish farms had to destroy their stocks of fish as they were too toxic to be sold.

The accident also led to a review of the UK’s capability to protect itself from the threat of pollution from merchant shipping.

One of its key recommendations was the introduction of coastguard tugs, which continue to provide emergency cover in Scottish waters despite a row over funding.

“Braer was a wake-up that everything was not right when it came to safeguarding our waters,” Mr Lochhead said.

“It is vital that the UK Government never allows complacency to creep in due to the passage of time because, even today, oil leaks are still happening.

“Thankfully, the Shetland environment has recovered and such major incidents are very rare.

“As we mark the 20th anniversary of the Braer disaster, we must continue to learn lessons and ensure our precious marine environment, and those using it, are properly protected.”

Also reflecting on the Braer incident was Friends of the Earth campaigner Paul Daly, who said: “As far as oil spills of this scale, go we were pretty lucky.

“This was due to favourable circumstances that helped with the clean-up. Severe storms helped dissipate the oil, which was unusually light, and a speedy response from both volunteers and professionals to undertake onshore clean-up work were also factors.”

The Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010 spilled an estimated 560,000-585,000 tonnes of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and Mr Daly warned that the risk of major environmental catastrophes was ever present.

“We have not seen significant advances in spill-recovery technology or a reduction in spills”, he said.

“The oil industry only aims to meet the minimum safety levels required by law.”

Recommended for you

More from Energy Voice

Latest Posts