Pollution. A year after the sinking of the Grande America, hydrocarbons on the beaches of the West

The Grande America, obviously, still pollutes, nearly a year after its shipwreck in the Bay of Biscay. On Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 February 2020, hydrocarbon cakes, strewn on certain beaches of Loire-Atlantique and Vendée, were detected by the gendarmerie. On the most affected beaches, a few tens of kilograms of pollutants were recovered, as well as several birds bearing traces of oil.

Upon knowledge of these facts, the State services mobilize and work in close collaboration with the Documentation Center for Research and Experimentation on Accidental Water Pollution (CEDRE) to try to determine its origin.

“Great similarities” with the propulsion fuel of Grande America, according to CEDRE

The first CEDRE analyzes, carried out from samples taken by the land authorities, show great similarities with the propulsion fuel from the ship Grande America, which sank in the Bay of Biscay on March 12, 2019. Satellite resources, air, sea and land, deployed as part of the regular surveillance of our maritime approaches, exercise increased vigilance on “maritime pollution” off the Loire coast. Aerial overflights were also carried out over the location of the Grande America sinking. No pollution at sea has been detected since the alert was triggered.

Before Great America sinks. | NATIONAL NAVY – BEE BOURBON

Reinforced surveillance of the coastline and maritime approaches to Pays de la Loire is maintained. However, the weather conditions, currently degraded in the Bay of Biscay, make it difficult to detect pollutants at sea, which experience shows that they could be caught between two waters.

Reminder on the sinking of the Grande America

After being reported in difficulty on March 10, 2019 following a fire on board, the ro-ro container ship Grande America sank on March 12 in the Bay of Biscay, at a depth of 4,660 meters, causing in the following weeks, pollution by floating debris and propellant oil.


Grande America: two oil slicks drift towards the coast

Sinking of the Grande America: drifting containers and a third slick

To cope with this event, the Maritime Prefect of the Atlantic had successively implemented the “search and rescue”, “assistance to ship in difficulty” and “pollution control at sea” components of the ORSEC maritime system. Atlantic, which has been maintained at its maximum level for twenty-three consecutive days.

Anti-pollution operations in March 2019. | NAVY

In April 2019, to stop the oil leaks escaping from the wreck of the Grande America, the unmanned submarine (ROV) operated by the specialized ship Island Pride, chartered by the Grimaldi Group, the owner of the merchant vessel, made it possible to seal the orifices through which the ship’s propulsion fuel flowed. Island Pride then proceeded to check the watertightness of the work carried out on the wreck and to carry out a complete survey before leaving the area of ​​the sinking on April 19, 2019. (source Maritime Prefecture)

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