The ‘Prestige’ Oil Spill

On 19 November 2002 the ‘Prestige’, a tanker carrying 77,000 tons of crude oil, broke in two and sank off the coast of Galicia, northwest Spain.

As one of the NGOs involved stated at the time: “The Prestige is Bahamas flagged, American classed, Greek owned by a company that may or may not be registered in Liberia, and chartered by a business that could be Russian or could be Swiss. Nobody yet knows.”

The government of Spain had refused the stricken ship permission to enter it’s waters and pump off its cargo. Once the ship had broken up and the oil gushed towards the coast, robbing the fishing industry of its livelihood for years, the Greek captain was arrested by Spain.

The people who removed the oil from the rocky coast and the perfect white beaches knew who they blamed: their government. They also knew who was going to be clearing up the mess: they were. One handful at a time.

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