7.5 The Consequences for the Local Population

But the oil disaster has touched the lives of Pembrokeshire’s population in general, not only of those people working in the affected industries. Very many people are angry about this incident, not only about its horrendous results for their environment and their jobs, but also about the resulting dangers for their health. A survey published by the Dyfed-Powys Health Authority reported that thousands of people from South Pembrokeshire were suffering from health problems that were caused by the pollution from the Sea Empress oil spill. The symptoms related to these were headaches, nausea, sore throats and itchy skin.58 There was one case of suicide directly connected with the disaster. Michael Northover, a member of Esso's managing staff, could no longer stand the pressure of directing the clean-up of the spill and took his life with an overdose of anti-depressants.59

The people of Pembrokeshire are also annoyed at the fact that they might have to pay for the clean-up operation in some part, as 4 million pounds are owed to Pembroke County Council for this. If the insurance companies do not pay a sufficient amount, the local population may have to suffer for this by paying higher taxes (S. Russel).

This leads to the question of how high the expenses resulting from the Sea Empress disaster will be. They are estimated to reach 64 million, as the oil industry believes. The tanker’s insurers from Norway, "Skuld", have to pay 8 million compensation and 49 million will then have to be covered by the IOPC (International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund). These said they would pay 75% of this amount to the local people when the latter had proved their claims. They wanted to keep the rest first, as they are afraid the claims might be higher than estimated.

The clean-up process has been calculated to have cost between 11 million and 16 million. 34 to 48 million is supposed to be paid to fishermen and the tourist industry. It is however doubtful whether all claims will be accepted.60


58 cf. Thousands sick after oil spill, in: The Times, 04-12-1996, General News, News in Brief (ref. doc. n 13)
59 cf. Suicide verdict, in: The Times, 02-08-1996, General News, News in Brief (ref. doc. n 14)
60 cf. Curphey, M., Oil industry faces 64m payout and clean-up bill over Sea Empress, in: The Times, 18-04-1996,
Business News (ref. doc. n 15)

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