On January 5, 1993, the U.S.-owned, Liberian-registered oil tanker Braer , without power in a force-10 gale, ran aground on the rocky shore near Fitful Head in the Shetland Islands. The captain was taking a short cut through the Fair Isle Channel to deliver 84,500 tons of oil from Norway to Canada. Wills ( A Place in the Sun ) and Warner, the Shetland Times reporter who covered the story, give a riveting account of the wreck, the rescue (all aboard were winched off by helicopter in the gale force winds) and the impact of the spill on people, land and wildlife. Continuing storms broke up the Braer ; winds kept the pollution at sea, where it was diluted. Wills, who has studied the oil industry's impact on the environment for 20 years, explains in detail how and why the tanker grounded, laying blame on tanker owners, who manned unfit ships with ill-trained crews, the British government and the insurance industry. In this example of superb reporting, the authors offer practical suggestions for safety, using existing technology. Photos. (Dec.)
A biting chronicle of the tanker that crashed against Shetland Islands in January 1993, depositing its oily cargo about the archipelago's craggy headlands. Written with seething outrage by two native journalists, the blow-by-blow story unfolds to reveal its immediate causes, which began when the ship's engine failed. Before that, the captain inexplicably departed from Norway into the teeth of a tremendous hurricane-force storm that sent the helpless vessel onto the rocks, but ironically moderated the magnitude of the disaster by dispersing the oil. However, one will still find here the usual sights--dozens of photos of dead birds and seals, fouled beaches, ruined fisheries, and naturally, British officials hurrying to the site. Strongly enlivened by its dramatic, human-interest detail--from the hazardous rescue of the crew to the disaster's impact on the local shepherds--this work advocates tighter regulation of the international shipping industry and closer surveillance of Britain's in-shore sea lanes. A viable acquisition wherever greens congregate to fume over Big Oil's diabolical trinity of the "Amoco Cadiz, Exxon Valdez," and now the "Braer".