Response at sea
Since the heavy fuel could not be dispersed, the only response option at sea was containment and recovery.
Black beaches were predicted for Christmas and the symbolism of that image was hugely exploited by the media.
French response organisation
Explanation of the French pollution response system involving Polmar plans.
Product characteristics and behaviour
The oil transported by the Erika was a heavy fuel used for industrial combustion (power plants, furnaces, cement factories...) and power supply to ships propelled by slow powerful diesel engines.
The sea bottom on which the wreck lay, about 30 miles south of Penmarc'h and 50 miles west of Belle-Ile, is a vast expanse of muddy sand.
A particular problem: local salt production
The Erika pollution raised a previously unencountered problem, at least on such a scale: that of the local production of salt in Guérande and Noirmoutier.