Dear Sir,
I regret that you, the Editor, are becoming like so many others in tabloid journalism. Using pre-conceived ideas about shipping that are all based on media made fantasies, rather than checking before reporting. I feel the following facts should be brought to the attention of your readers to offset some of the bias of your comments: The last oil spill off the coast of Spain, La Coruña, some 8 years ago was the tanker “Aegean Sea”, and she was of double hull construction and of EU flag. Shipping is customer driven, like so many other industries, on cost. The oil was the residues left after refining which can be used in power stations to generate electricity cheaply, and in order to be cheap, the cheapest transport is found. If no single hull tankers are available, then an ageing double hull will be the next choice with similar results. Of the hundreds of million tons of oil that is transported by sea annually, one accidental pollution every 2 or 3 years although regrettable, is on par with airline safety, (oil miles to air miles), the latter is considered acceptable. A good point that should be well noted is that with oil tanker pollution accidents in the last 15 years no human lives have been lost.

The majority of merchant shipping is owned by the first world, which takes advantage of the third world for open registers (flags of convenience) and crew, rather than use their national flags and own nationals in the pursuit of profit. Chief executives and their accountants care not how it is done, so long as the shareholders are happy.

In the last major European pollution incidents, those affected by the pollution and involved in the clean up, have all been very adequately compensated. There are always people who complain, these are normally the greedy with gross unsubstantiated claims, who regrettably get media attention giving the compensation authorities an unnecessarily bad press. It should also be noted the above “media described” disaster areas are now cleaner than before the pollution, and wild life has returned to normal.

So, to round off this letter on a joyous note for the coming new year, the EU is proposing to ban all single hull tankers in EU waters carrying dirty oils. This action can only cause the cost of living in Europe to increase, and as most accidents are caused by human error, have no effect in stopping the next pollution incident.

Nigel Maude