Europa aplaude la decisi?n tomada con el MSC Napoli, y desde luego parece la correcta, adem?s destaca la independencia con la que ha actuado Middleton para evitar un mal mayor. Pero lejos queda la varada intencionada del MSC Napoli del tinglado que puede montar un petrolero. Sin ir m?s lejos, enfrente se perdi? el Amoco Cadiz y un poco m?s al Oeste el Torrey Canyon.
No tienen desperdicio las declaraciones de Middleton, la zona elegida es patrimonio de la UNESCO, y a los lugare?os no les ha hecho gracia que haya sido elegida para tan altruista fin, m?s sabiendo que la zona se considere abrigada para posiblemente futuros accidentes.
Questions are being asked at high levels as to why this was ever allowed to happen in the first place. Why wasn’t the MSC Napoli taken into Falmouth after getting into trouble off The Lizard last Thursday?
Robin Middleton, the Secretary of State’s representative in Maritime Salvage and Interventions, was asked this week to explain why Portland was chosen as the original destination.
The following question was put to him: «Why did you decide on Thursday to send Napoli to Lyme Bay, a World Heritage Site, when Falmouth, which has capacity to take oil off board, was so much closer at the time.»
Mr Middleton explained: «When the disaster occurred, there was an environmental impact assessment carried out. There were a number of them. They showed clearly the area of the UK that would be appropriate to bring this vessel to started in Falmouth and stretched pretty well to Portland Bill.
«We evaluated every site in that area. We could not have used the offloading capabilities of Falmouth because the vessel was too deep to go in. Wherever we took her, she would always have to stay offshore.
«So it would always be the case of actually working from the sea.
«Falmouth, as a destination, was not possible because of the actual action of the weather and the waves at that time.
«Had we attempted to put the vessel across the channel against that kind of sea, it is almost certain she would have broken up and sunk in deep water.
«The decision to send the vessel into the beach in sight was mine and mine alone. I think it was a correct decision.«
He said the decision to tow the vessel to the English coastline rather than the French one was taken to avoid deeper water and «a greater threat to the environment».
Mr Middleton said the Napoli’s destination was Portland outer harbour. But on Saturday morning «we realised a substantial part of the ship’s structure was beginning to fail».
«At that point the only decision was to beach the vessel as quickly as possible,» he said. «The fact that that was the right decision was amply demonstrated by the fact that the ship virtually sunk herself.»
Toby Stone, head of counter pollution response team for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, helped advise Mr Middleton of the decision. He said: «The ship came into the area of Lyme Bay seeking refuge initially before proceeding up to Portland.
«At daybreak, of course, the situation worsened and we had to make a decision where was the most suitable place to beach.»
The Environment Group, also consulted in the decision-making, said almost everywhere along the South Coast was a sensitive area. «We feel the decision was taken on the best information and advice available,» said Mr Stone. «Historically, Lyme Bay has always been a very good place for ship-to-ship transfers.
«It is a place where mariners know you go to for refuge when there is a storm.»
Devon county councillor Stuart Hughes described it as «a load of rubbish» not to be able to use Falmouth harbour, which he understood had the facilities for the transfer of oil and containers.
While having «every faith» in the emergency team prepared for such scenarios, Mr Hughes said such a decision should have been resisted along the World Heritage Site and Site of Special Scientific Interest.
«We have for many years been calling for the MCA and Government to implement the ship-to-ship transfer regulations, which have been in draft form since 1999 and here we are in 2007 still waiting.
«It was only three years ago that heavy crude oil was being transferred in Lyme Bay and, whilst at the present time a voluntary ban is in place, there is nothing to stop the practice commencing once again and the decision to allow the MSC Napoli to beach could kick start the procedure.
Al hilo de todo esto, tenemos las declaraciones oficiales del Ministerio de Transportes Brit?nico en voz de su Ministro.