On the evening of 15th February 1996 the MV Sea Empress was on her way do deposit oil at the Texaco oil refinery when disaster struck. The Empress was sailing against the outgoing tide when the ship was pushed off course by strong winds. It hit huge rocks in the middle of the channel at 20:07 which tore a massive hole into her starboard hull causing tonnes of oil to spill out into the sea.
Over the next few days of the disaster a whopping 73,000 tonnes out of the ship’s 130,000 North Sea crude oil spilled into the ocean and onto the surrounding coasts causing a catastrophic toll on the local environment and wildlife.
Oil came ashore along 200 kilometres of coastline, with the worst hit areas within the
Milford Haven waterway and along the south Pembrokeshire coast. All fishing and the
collection of edible plants was banned as it was deemed a health risk. Large numbers
of dead or dying animals were washed ashore. In the area affected by oil, potentially
vulnerable mammals included grey seals, porpoises, bottlenose dolphins, otters, and
greater horseshoe bats hibernating in coastal caves. Over 7,000 oiled birds were washed ashore following the spill. The oil spill affected the tourism greatly and the amount of tourists plummeted. Oil was visible on the beaches and in the sea and its smell was toxic. Large stretches of nearby coastal paths were closed for safety reasons. Climbers were advised against using two of the best areas in Pembrokeshire. Due to the huge loss of tourists Pembrokeshire lost over £2million which was a massive financial lost for the bustling county.
Quote from a local fisherman, “I found it very hard to make a living after the oil spill. I was unable to catch fish to sell and nobody would even by my fish a year after the disaster in case they were still contaminated by the oil. What broke my heart was the sight of the coasts covered in disgusting oil and the stench was horrible. It made me want to...