The Shell oil company abandons plans to dump an oil rig in the Atlantic ocean following a campaign by Greenpeace.

The Brent Spar, a disused and heavily contaminated oil terminal in the North Sea had been operated by Shell UK Ltd and by 1991 was no longer required for use. Shell took the decision that the rig, located in the Brent oilfield and which contains toxic sludge and radioactive waste was to be disposed of in a deep water section of the Atlantic, 340 miles off the coast of Donegal.

A campaign run by the environmental group Greenpeace resulted in international media attention which engaged politicians and the public in the European Union. The rig was occupied by Greenpeace activists, a boycott of Shell service stations organised in northern Europe, and a Shell petrol station in Germany firebombed.

The company made the announcement at a press conference in London. It will now apply for an onshore disposal licence from the British government. In spite of the fact that they have effectively backtracked on their original plans, Shell UK chairman Chris Fay still believes the company is in the right,

The deep water disposal of the Brent Spar is and remains the best practical environmental option.

There were celebrations in Greenpeace Ireland headquarters as the news came through. Director of Greenpeace Ireland Claire O’Grady-Walsh said that the organisation’s independent status and non-political ethos made it possible to achieve such a political consensus across Europe. She welcomed the decision for the Brent Spar to be decommissioned on land,

Jobs can be created from offshore decommissioning without the liability issues, without the pollution problems, and without the burden being put on the taxpayer.

Shell’s decision was welcomed by the Minister for the Environment Brendan Howlin, as well as the Minister for the Marine Seán Barrett. Today he amended the 1981 Dumping At Sea Act, which now means that,

It will effectively exclude any dumping at sea other than substance following on dredging.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 20 June 1995. The reporter is Carole Coleman.