Backhoe loaders, gloves, absorbent products and floating rods: in La Rochelle (Charente-Maritime), everything is ready to fight against a pollution that threatens the coast after the sinking of the Italian ship Grande America.
On the old port, the DVG mayor of the city Jean-François Fountaine looks at the sea as a connoisseur. For this former skipper, who studied the weather charts, “the tablecloth will arrive Wednesday, or later,” he told AFP.
Since Tuesday, when the hybrid ship sank between a ro-ro and a container ship, two oil slicks drift to the coasts of Gironde and Charente-Maritime, two departments placed in “pre-alert” to anticipate any risk of pollution.
“At the level of the town hall,” assures the elected Rochelais, “we gathered road machinery, trucks, backhoe loaders, crane trucks, suction equipment, absorbent products and 150 municipal agents competent for this type of intervention. They can be mobilized as soon as the Polmar Terre plan is triggered by the prefecture, “he says.
The town hall has also placed a pre-order of personal protective equipment: gloves, coveralls, based on the most dramatic scenario.
In parallel, she launched a photo control of the beaches to be able to establish a zero point before the spill, for insurance. Water samples are taken to establish the health status of the sea before pollution and samples are studied under the control of the Regional Health Agency.
The port of Minimes, one of the largest marinas in Europe, also has “twenty staff trained to fight against pollution, on 56 employees,” says Anne Fontanaud, its Quality-Safety-Environment manager.
“We have 200 meters of floating dams, equipped with a skirt that contains the pollution, and 100 meters of floating rods, a boat of 7 meters and five other working, smaller.Our role is to prevent pollution of the sea. 'to enter the port but if need be, they are available to plan Polmar Land and could serve for the old port or elsewhere'.
– The fear of “dumplings” –
In this region famous for its oyster farms, it also takes its provisions.
“We have our stocks for this year and for the next year, which are at sea. We can not take the oysters out, we do not have any clear ones like in Marennes-Oléron, the only thing we can do is 'is out a part and pass in basin with clean water,' says Armand Bernard, oyster farmer in Aytré who also raises with his grandson oysters at sea at the tip of Grouin, on the island of Ré.
But he does not want to be worried: “It's still not the Amoco,” says the sexagenarian about the tanker Amoco Cadiz whose sinking caused a spectacular oil spill in Britain in 1978.
“Next week, there will be a big tide and then good weather, it should create a wind that will not affect our coast,” said Mr. Bernard, who cleans his oysters on a table .
“It all depends on the behavior of pollution,” adds Anne Fontanaud, “if it is an iridescent water, pellets or a compact tablecloth,” she adds.
The mayor of La Rochelle also fears the “dumplings” of oil and has already launched calls for the collection of waste on which they could stick.
Some high school students have already, without really knowing it, answered the call. On the pebble beach near the old town, they pick up bottles, old bits of fishing nets, plastic bags.
Caline Daveau, the mother of one of them, accompanies them: “What future will we leave for our children? We will leave a damaged planet, polluted.This oil spill + is dramatic for nature, wildlife It's a tragedy, “she says, arguing that” our children have a future. ”