Lack Of ETV Cover A Disaster In The Making!


The foundering of large oil tankers and the immense damage that this causes to the marine environment has not led to lessons being learned according to a BBC news report (link):

The report highlights specifically the withdrawal of Emergency Towing Cover (ETV) which was put in place following disasters such as the Sea Empress (off Wales) and the Braer (off Shetland).

Together with other groups the Celtic League strongly opposed the end of the ETV system which saw four vessels available and sited around the British Isles with a heavy towing capacity.

Indeed the Celtic League was the FIRST organisation to campaign for this facility well over two and a half decades ago and it was therefore it was a bitter pill to swallow when the facility was ended.

For some years after the British government announced the system would end we campaigned with other interest groups via the ‘ETV Working Group’ set up by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) – see link:…/loss-of-etv-cover-brings-im…/

Since the ETVs were withdrawn there have been a number of incidents including a chemical tanker adrift off Fair Isle and the incident with the MV Parida which caught fire while carrying nuclear waste. Fortunately to date there have been no serious oil tanker catastrophes however such events are cyclic and it seems inevitable a disaster will eventually occur. The consequences of these events such as the Braer and Sea Empress can be long lasting and depending on sea conditions wide ranging.

Paradoxically one of the issues driving the Celtic League campaign thirty years ago was also the foundering of the Prestige and Erika oil tankers off Brittany and in the Biscay Sea. These incidents contaminated coasts in Brittany and Galicia.

Fortunately the French government has strengthened ETV capacity whilst the MCA in the United Kingdom has denuded the marine environment of this necessary protection against a man made disaster – which is waiting to happen!

Photo: The ETV Anglian Sovereign one of four ETVs that provided cover for almost two decades until the system ended in 2011


Issued by: The Celtic News



The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues

Mannin Branch Celtic League's photo.
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