The Torrey Canyon oil tanker hit the Seven Stones reef 18 March 1967. Located between Cornwall the Isles of Scilly the 119,000 tonnes of oil created two main slicks that covered both coastlines before traveling south to The Channel Isles and Brittany. At the time it was the largest oil spill at sea and caught the authorities off guard. Not knowing how to cope with the enormity of the slick the government used various cleanup techniques including toxic detergents and explosives. Ongoing analysis after the event found that the cleanup caused more environmental damage than if the oil-covered beaches were left to storm and tide action to break up and disperse.
This photo series shot in 2011 from February to March documents many of the locations where oil washed up around Cornwall. Some sites still have high water marks where the oil has solidified or black patches burnt onto rocks by the sun.