FRANCE: Boycotts and fury as public attacks Total over Erika oil spill

Anger at the scale of Brittany coast pollution from the Erika oil spill has given rise to consumer boycotts of the French petroleum company Total and a collection of websites accusing the firm of environmental negligence.


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The Erika oil spill took place before Christmas but government officials assured the French public that Brittany’s coastline would not suffer significantly.

Instead, Bretons found themselves faced with a Christmas pollution disaster and there were accusations of government collusion with oil companies. The French Centre for Information, Research and Experience into Water Pollution accidents (Cedre) denied receiving disproportionate funding from oil firms and also denied that its advisory board includes an unusually high number of oil industry representatives. France’s two petroleum companies, Total and Elf, each have one representative on the 17-strong advisory board. The two companies contribute about 10% of the government agency’s budget.

Focus has also turned to the international merchant marine industry and its regulation. With the French Transport Minister due to meet representatives from the maritime transport industry in February, some are hoping that France will use its EU presidency (see related story), scheduled for the second half of 2000, to pursue maritime safety.

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