The Shetland Oil Disaster: 'Green' group is accused of scare

GREENPEACE was yesterday accused of needlessly frightening Shetland islanders about long-term health hazards that might be caused by the oil spillage from the tanker Braer.

Dr Derek Cox, director of public health for Shetland, said that it was 'frankly irresponsible' for the environmental pressure group to have aired its fears at a public meeting held near the wreck yesterday.

He said that environmental health checks carried out so far 'confirm the views that were expressed early on about the likely very, very small risk to the physical health of the population.

'It seems to me now that the public health interest is shifting to the hazards associated with strains and anxiety, fears and uncertainty in the population.

'I have to say that there are certain groups and certain individuals who I feel are contributing to that to the extent that I am now beginning to think that the greatest public health hazard here is the groups and individuals who are scaremongering.' When asked to whom he was referring, Dr Cox singled out Greenpeace, which had earlier held a public meeting in the village hall at Urkie, just a short distance from where the Braer ran aground.

Alison Ross, spokeswoman for Greenpeace, defended the calling of the meeting and said that the aim had merely been to draw people's attention to what could happen in the long term. 'It was basically to counteract this view that because the oil is out of sight it should no longer be considered a problem,' she said.

Greenpeace criticised the occupational health hazard exposure measure which sets a limit of 100 parts per million of vapour accumulated over five eight-hour working days. It says that this is only relevant to healthy young men and is too high for the sick, or older people.

However, Dr Paul Leinster, an environmental health consultant, said: 'Only on one occasion have we had measurable levels of organic vapour greater than one part per million. That was when we measured levels up to six parts per million at Garth Ness on the day the ship was breaking up.' Hydrocarbon readings near the wreck were substantially less than those routinely recorded in London, and checks on workers who had cleaned up Shetland beaches showed low particle levels.

Malcolm Green, chief executive of Shetland Islands Council, said yesterday that because the weather had dispersed the Braer's cargo of 84,500 tonnes of light crude so quickly, he now regarded the immediate emergency as over.

The legal claims, page 20

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Ashdown Group: Learning & Development Manager - North London - £53,000

£45000 - £53000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: Learning & Develo...

Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executive - Magazines

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's largest regional newspaper pub...

Ashdown Group: Content Manager - Publishing

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant - Oxford

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: As a successful and growing Security Installat...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn