Marées noires d’aujourd’hui et d’hier

VIENNA – L’explosion survenue le 20 avril dans le golfe du Mexique, à Deepwater Horizon, une plate-forme pétrolière du groupe British Petroleum (BP), a provoqué une marée noire – la plus médiatisée que l’on ait connue depuis des décennies. Dans ces mêmes eaux, un peu plus au sud, du côté mexicain du golfe, s’était produite il y a 31 ans, une autre fuite, qui avait fini par être parfaitement neutralisée.

Celle-ci avait eu lieu sur la plate-forme d’Ixtoc 1, exploitée par Pemex, une entreprise publique mexicaine. L’accident d’alors et celui d’aujourd’hui, ainsi que les marées qui ont suivi, présentent un certain nombre d’analogies, même si, d’un événement à l’autre, on peut constater que de profonds changements sont apparus au cours des trente dernières années.

Auparavant, les pétroliers étaient tenus responsables pour le volume de pétrole qu’ils répandaient. Le nettoyage des cuves pouvait occasionner un grand nombre de petites fuites, et le naufrage de pétroliers comme le Torrey Canyon, l’Exxon Valdez, le Metula et le St. Peter, avait provoqué des fuites énormes et concentrées. Les sinistres n’étaient pas rares, mais ils étaient le plus souvent terrestres, ou alors ils se produisaient en eau peu profonde, et la plupart étaient relativement faciles à contenir.

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