Économie et Statistique n° 357-358 Employment - Social Transfers - Pensions - Industry - Environmental Goods Evaluation
Evaluation of the damage caused by oil slicks: an illustration based on the case of Erika and the residents' loss of amenities
The damage caused by the Erika hipwreck was relatively limited in terms of time, but hit a highly populated coastline near to the large town of Nantes. The local population's loss of amenities hence represented a much larger proportion of the total damage than in the case of other oil slicks. Consequently, evaluation efforts prioritise how the inhabitant's leisure activities have suf-fered,especially beachcombing for shellfish, which is an extremely popular activity on this coastline. Two surveys of the coastal inhabitants affected by the pollution and the inhabitants of Nantes are used to evaluate the oil slick's effects on beachcombing for shellfish in the six months following the shipwreck. The majority of beach-combers abandoned this activity. In three-quarters of the cases, other open-air activities, especially walking, replaced beachcombing. The losses suffered by the fishermen who abandoned beachcombing with no other replacement activity are evaluated based on the economic surplus generated by this activity in a normal period. For those who abandoned beachcombing, but took up another open-air activities, the losses are obtained by comparing the surpluses of these two activities. A summary of specific data collected from the affected population following the oil slick and data from other surveys estimates damage at nearly 100 million euros, which is around the same as the expenditure on cleaning and rehabilitation. This finding shows the extent of the loss of amenities, a category that could be called an «orphan» since this damage provides no entitlement to compensation. This evaluation hence helps build awareness of the magnitude of the loss of amenities in the total social costs of oil slicks.