College Papers

Following Seabird” included work to clean and save

Following the tragedy, copious cleanup efforts were implemented, a majority being unsuccessful. In a first attempt, small boats were equipped with spraying gear and sent out to fight against and attempt to remove the oil slicks. 10,000 tons of dispersants, primarily an extremely toxic detergent called BP1002, were sprayed onto the oil, creating an unsuccessful attempt to improve the situation and further polluting the environment. Next, a shallow polythene device was used to scrape away the oil, which was also found to be very ineffective. People attempted to contain the oil using foam booms, however, were unable to do so due to the rising water. Manual removal, including using straw and gorse to soak up the oil on beaches, was also attempted, but very minimal improvements were made. The French applied 3000 tons of chalk containing stearic acid to the scene, an event that is believed to have resulted in the sinking a dispersion of the oil due to the chalk’s oleophilic properties. 3000 tons of oil were also pumped into sewage tankers and dumped into a quarry after a thick oil slick hit the Guernsey coastline, creating detrimental environmental consequences. ¬†Finally, when all of the wreck and cargo could not be towed away, and pumping the spilled oil into other vessels was deemed ineffective, the government decided to bomb the Torrey Canyon from above, setting fire to the surrounding slicks. 42 bombs were dropped, and only 31 actually reached the desired target. When these bombs failed to ignite all of the oil, aviation fuel and napalm were used to burn the remaining slicks. By March 30 of 1967, a high majority of all the oil in the wreck and its immediate surrounding had been destroyed by fire (Joyce, 1967). Following the main crisis, locals and organizations were significantly praised for giving up their time to help with the cleanup of the disaster. The RSPCA also attempted to encourage efforts to minimize wildlife impact; local buildings, even police stations, were used as housing for harmed animals. “Operation Seabird” included work to clean and save birds that had become stuck in the oil slicks, and continued until April of 1967.