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The Tanio incident raised several questions which were a source of long debates. Nevertheless, it was a pioneer on two important points, the problem of safe haven harbour and the activation of Polmar Plans.

It took several days of heated debate to find a destination for the wrecked Tanio. The admission of a ship in difficulties into a harbour may be risky. Towing a wreck transporting hazardous materials to an area where industrial activities are important and where the density of population is high is a potential hazard. The case of the Tanio emphasised how it was important to take certain precautions to prevent an accident when receiving a ship in distress into a harbour.

When the Tanio sank, a debate began about the activation of Polmar plans: should they be activated immediately? Activation meant access to the Polmar Funds. But it also meant a negative image for the whole area and it was necessary to preserve the public image of tourism on Brittany’s coasts.

New features

The sinking of the Tanio was the first large-scale pollution Cedre had ever faced. The association had to carry out a role of mediation and advice, particularly with the people in charge of Polmar Plans and the local authorities. It also got very involved in the deployment of new oil response techniques and maintained good co-ordination between the different scientific partners involved in oil response operations. Cedre, with the collaboration of other research teams, studied the physico-chemical behaviour of the Tanio’s oil, thus improving the daily productivity in rock clean-up sites. Existing equipment, such as EGMOPOL, skimmers and viscous product pumps had been proposed. Other materials dedicated to oil recovery had to be adapted.

The pumping of the Tanio’s cargo at public expense was an unprecedented operation in terms of decision and realisation. It demonstrated the France's determination not to leave the wreck of an oil tanker on the seabed without at least considering a neutralisation operation of its cargo.

Last update: 18/07/2003