In the first place, the local response to the Sea Empress disaster has been immediate and impressive. Statutory services, working in concert with hundreds of volunteers, are making valiant efforts to clean up the beaches and to rescue detergent-blinded seals and thousands of bewildered oil-covered sea birds.
The leisure and shell-fishing industries will undoubtedly suffer, and there is still the possibility of an unprecedented wildlife calamity if the oil around Skomer Island is not cleared before the million or so Manx shearwaters and puffins return to their nesting and feeding grounds within the next few days.
However, my most abiding impression is one of anger and frustration among the local population.
Anger, that a pollution disaster of this magnitude could have been avoided or dramatically minimised had the Donaldson recommendations been implemented in full. Frustration, that in spite of the media invasion, the placatory visits of princes and politicians, and the promised government inquiry, nothing will change.
West Walians, like the Shetlanders, are not naturally vindictive. However, many of them are now convinced that only a foot-deep slick of oily filth engulfing the Solent or moving up the Thames on a rising tide will persuade the Government to take the steps necessary to prevent these inexcusable catastrophes on our more remote coastlines.
John J Evans