Rainbow Warrior leads protest flotilla in Spain

EU leaders must protect the seas

Press release - 8 December, 2002
Thousands have welcomed the Rainbow Warrior and a floatilla of 150 vessels protesting against the weak response to the Prestige oil spill in Spain.

The Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior sails in the Galician port town of La Coruna this morning in protest against the weak response to the oil disaster from authorities, and demanding that stricter measures are put in place.

Representatives of the Spanish fishing industry joined Greenpeace today in calling on the European Union to adopt real and effective measures to guarantee that catastrophes such as the Prestige oil tanker disaster never happen again.

More than 150 boats including Greeenpeace's flagship the Rainbow Warrior held a flotilla at the Galacian port town of A Coruña this morning, as 2000 people lined the harbour foreshore, protesting against the weak response to the disaster from authorities, and demanding that stricter measures are put in place. The Rainbow Warrior will spend the coming days in the affected area, documenting the ongoing impact of the disaster on Spain's oil-soaked shores.

"The EU must get serious about ensuring that disasters like the Prestige can never happen again," said Juan López de Uralde, Greenpeace Spain Executive Director, speaking from the Rainbow Warrior. "The EU Transport Ministers Council held last Friday, was very disappointing and failed to adopt strong enough measures to protect our seas. When the presidents of the EU meet in Copenhagen next week they must implement a much stricter system immediately."

Greenpeace is demanding full and unlimited liability throughout the chain of responsibilities, including the owners, managers and operators of a vessel and of any charterers or owners of the cargo ensuring that the industry pays for the damage caused by accidents. The decision by EU Transport Ministers to ban single-hulled vessels carrying heavy oil should be extended to cover all hazardous materials, and to exclude single-hulled ships from ecologically sensitive areas.

"The maximum compensation in the case of the Prestige will amount to only 172 million Euros," said Lopez de Uralde. "It is completely unacceptable that those responsible for the damage can wash their hands of the whole issue and that the taxpayers have to pay for most of the damages."

Speaking at a press conference on board the Rainbow Warrior, the Galician writer Manolo Rivas, one of the founders of Greenpeace Spain, recalled the famous Greenpeace campaign in the mid 1980s, which stopped the dumping of radioactive waste in the Atlantic Ocean off Spain. Rivas urged Spanish people to mobilise against the "black tide', as they did against radioactive waste, to ensure that the Prestige catastrophe is never repeated

VVPR info: Franca Michienzi, Greenpeace Picture Editor, +31 6 29001162