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Response on land

In anticipation of the slicks reaching the shore, booms were deployed at most of the sensitive sites along the threatened coastline. This equipment was from the POLMAR stockpiles and the oil cooperative FOST, mobilised by TotalFina. Initial clean-up operations were organised on beaches, rocks and riprap as soon as the slicks reached the coast. More than 5,000 professionals and volunteers worked on the coast in often very harsh conditions. Once the initial clean-up operations were complete, the final clean-up phase could begin. Unfortunately, in many places, new strandings on the coast ruined the work already done. Furthermore, particularly in Loire-Atlantique and Vendée, very harsh weather conditions, connected to high tidal coefficients, caused oil slicks to be buried under several dozen centimetres of sand, leading to the formation of multiple alternate layers of oil and sand, which subsequently underwent erosion and accretion phases with successive tides. Many products and devices were tried out. Few of them proved to be particularly effective, due to the very high viscosity of the fuel oil, and manual collection was the only solution in the initial stages. For riprap, high-pressure washing with effluent recovery using sorbents was the chosen technique. On beaches, beach cleaners were used to recover patties and tarballs deposited on the sediment.



This equipment was from the POLMAR stockpiles and the oil cooperative FOST, mobilised by TotalFina.

Various new or improved tools and techniques were successfully tested and information was disseminated by Cedre to the various operational incident command posts, including:

  • recovering splashes of oil using non-woven polypropylene overwintering fabric during high-pressure washing of heterogeneous riprap;
  • filtering effluents from rock washing and natural washing of pebbles at the bottom of the beach using elver nets and construction site nets;
  • alternating ploughing (or deep tilling) and screening to recover tarballs buried up to 25-30 cm deep in the beach sediment;
  • ploughing of beaches in the tidal zone to allow buried tarballs to be reclaimed by the sea and then deposited at the top of the beach.






The PCF (Poste de Commandement Fixe) is the central command centre at Prefecture-level. Its missions are to centralise information, coordinate clean-up operations (assessment of needs, distribution of resources, accommodation, etc.) and organise communication operations.


The PCA (Poste de Commandement Avancé) is the onsite command post based within the areas affected by the spill. It is in charge of applying the strategic decisions made by the PCF. It reports back on actions conducted in the field and informs the PCF of needs in terms of equipment and operators.


The PCO (Poste de Commandement Opérationnel) is the operational command post which functions at an intermediate level between the PCF and the PCA.

Last update on 09/12/2000
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