MARCH 1978: THE DISASTER OF THE AMOCO CADIZ

On the morning of 16 March 1978, the oil tanker Amoco Cadiz, en route from the Persian Gulf to Rotterdam, Netherlands, via a scheduled stop at Lyme Bay, Great Britain, encountered stormy weather with gale conditions and high seas while in the English Channel. At around 09:45, a heavy wave hit the ship’s rudder and it was found that she was no longer responding to the helm. A German tug boat attempted to assist the tanker, however the first towrope, broke three hours later. Despite all the efforts made by the crews of both ships, the Amoco Cadiz ran aground at 10 pm near the small port of Portsall. Many tanks were broken in the accident and the first oil slicks quickly reached the coast. Within two weeks, the entire cargo, 1,604,500 barrels of light crude oil from Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia and Kharg Island, Iran, had spilled out into the sea, polluting 360 km of shoreline from Brest to Saint Brieuc. Up to ix thousand French soldiers were mobilized to clean tar from the beaches and bays for several months. US scientists said the Amoco Cadiz oil spill spawned the largest biological kill of marine life ever recorded from such an incident. In 1992, 14 years after the disaster, Amoco finally agreed to pay $200 million in damages. Image: the end of the Amoco Cadiz in French Brittany.