One was soon to realise that the 14 km of floating booms available in the Polmar stocks (emergency equipment stocks for marine oil spill response) were far from large enough to contain the hundred thousand tonnes of “chocolate mousse” (oil and water emulsion) drifting towards the coasts. Shovels, buckets, floating pumps, slurry spreaders, dump trucks, rail tanks and all other equipment that can be used to collect and transport oil towards temporary stocking pits were used.
Within a few days, 7,000 volunteers and the same number of soldiers were gathered and started cleaning the rocks, beaches and most damaged areas. After a few weeks they had collected about 15,000 tonnes of oil and three times as much seaweed, sand and other polluted debris.
Oiled birds clinics were settled in Finistère and Côtes d’Armor, but only an average of one treated bird in twenty can be saved.
Tidal marine life suffered a lot all along the 300 km of damaged coastline and organisms died either trapped under the oil or because of high pressure flushing and of cleaning shovels. A few dead grey seals were even found on the Côtes d’Armor beaches.