Endless stretches of cliffs with deep coves and caves were coated with Heavy Fuel Oil during the Erika oil spill. Professional rope workers were called in to help clean the cliffs and the coves as most of them were located in protected reserves. This was the very first time that such a technique was used to clean up pollution and it turned out to be original if only because of the size of the job to be done. The clean-up operation lasted two and a half years, involved over 800 work sites and the rope workers cleaned up more than 50 of them. As a rule, cliffs that are hard to access are not cleaned up if only for safety and logistics reasons. There were various reasons why so many work sites had to be set up during the Erika clean-up, namely: the nature and the quantities of the HFO, the ecological, amenity and heritage importance of the area, the know how and the complementarity of the rope workers and the clean-up companies that continually improved their techniques and their efficiency as time went by. Thanks to compliance with rules and safety standards there were no accidents.

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