Environment: Disaster off the Brittany Coast

History's biggest oil spill despoils the French shoreline

Like a grotesque, hook-shaped inkblot, the oil spread menacingly across the water. Along a single stretch of Brittany beach, 25 species of dead fish were found. Vast beds of seaweed, which are harvested to make Pharmaceuticals and fertilizer, were destroyed. Thousands of oil-tarred birds lay dead or dying. The Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey were threatened, as were the sands around the spectacular monastery at Mont-St.-Michel. Driven by gale winds, the oil may despoil more than 160 kilometers (100 miles) of France's ruggedly beautiful Brittany coast, and imperil the Normandy beaches farther to...

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