Oil spurts into air as tanker breaks up

THE BRAER tanker, wrecked off Shetland, showed signs of breaking up last night.

The mid-section is thought to have come apart from the stern and bow and the hull bottom was reported to be cracked from end to end, raising fears that all 84,500 tonnes of oil on board could be discharged into the sea.

Witnesses described how oil was spurting 20ft into the air before being blown on to rocks by winds reaching 100mph. As much as 20,000 tonnes was said to have drained from the ship in six hours.

As fears rose that the vessel would disintegrate rapidly in the hurricane-force winds, the Government ordered a second and more wide-ranging inquiry into the disaster in the face of concerted pressure for firm action from its critics.

Lord Donaldson of Lymington, the former Master of the Rolls, has been asked to advise on whether further measures are appropriate and feasible to protect the UK coastline from pollution by merchant shipping.

In Shetland, severe weather has made salvage work impossible. Captain Geert Kofferman, the salvage chief from Smit Tak, estimates that more than half of the ship's cargo has been discharged into the sea. Gales are forecast to continue for at least another 24 hours, by the end of which most

of the cargo is likely to have been discharged.

The announcement of the second inquiry, in a Commons statement by John MacGregor, Secretary of State for Transport, was being taken as a concession to opposition and public criticisms that the Department of Trade and Industry's Marine Accident Investigation Branch investigation would do little to prevent environmental disasters.

Labour MPs appeared satisfied, despite its containing a rider from Mr MacGregor that Lord Donaldson should give consideration to the 'international and economic implications of any new measures'.

While this could give Lord Donaldson a convenient get-out in the likely event of heavy opposition from the oil and merchant shipping lobbies, Labour MPs, including John Prescott, transport spokesman, broadly welcomed the wider inquiry.

It is flagged as a public one but Lord Donaldson will have the freedom to hear evidence in private if he believes that is necessary.

Ian Lang, Secretary of State for Scotland, told MPs that a 'bridging fund' of up to several million pounds would begin paying compensation to farmers and fishermen while insurance claims were settled.

Emphasising that the 'polluter pays' principle applied in the case of the Braer, Mr MacGregor said pounds 50m would be available from the vessel's insurer and the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund.

Mr Lang said that an ecological steering group would develop strategies for dealing with the implications of the oil spillage for the islands' natural development.

Angry islanders are not satisfied with statements in the Commons yesterday suggesting that recompense would have to come from the polluters.

Magnus Flaws, a local councillor, said: 'This is not what we are wanting to hear. What we need is money now. Who is going to pay the salmon farmer who has lost his harvest. If it is left to the polluter to pay it could take three years or more.'

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
News
peopleSwimmer also charged with crossing double land lines and excessive speeding
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
art
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

1st Line Service Desk Analyst

£27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style