HC Deb 10 July 1996 vol 281 c192W
Mr. Allen

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to receive the report of the inquiry into the Sea Empress disaster. [35961]

Mr. Norris

The chief inspector of marine accidents intends to report to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State within one year of the incident.

Mr. Nicholls

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made in the clean-up operation following the Sea Empress oil spill off the Pembrokeshire coast; and if he will make a statement. [36996]

Mr. Norris

The clean-up operation has made excellent progress. The majority of beaches have now been cleaned of the heavy pollution immediately following the spill. Pembrokeshire's prime resort beaches at Tenby and Saundersfoot were restored in time for the Easter break and Tenby north beach has recently been awarded the prestigious European blue flag for high standards of cleanliness and water quality. It is one of only four beaches in Wales to achieve this.

The main efforts in the on-going clean-up operation are now concentrated on the most inaccessible areas of coastline. However, the strong winds and high waters of the Pembrokeshire coastline continue to reveal isolated patches of buried oil, tar balls from oil broken down at sea and some sheening effects as oil residues are washed out. All beaches continue to be monitored closely and "hit squads" are immediately brought into action to deal with any localised problems of this kind. Resources will continue to be deployed for as long as is necessary to complete the clean-up operation.