Our members train hard and equip for all eventualities so that when the call comes their response to pollution incidents is effective and the staff have the training to manage the incidents safely and professionally. The catalyst for the formation of the oil spill response industry was several major tanker spills – SS Torrey Canyon, SS Walfra and SS Amoco Cadiz. These incidents in relatively close succession caused the government to wake up to the risk it carried in allowing lightly regulated vessels to navigate their waters with inadequate maritime pollution incident plans as demonstrated by the response to each of these pollution incidents.
Legislation was put in place, and investment in equipment and capability followed. As regulation tightened with tankers now being double-bottomed and better control of shipping, navigation and collision avoidance technology now the norm, incidents have reduced. However, they still occur. When they do, they are generally complex incidents that require a range of skills to manage.
The pollution that our members respond to is not just oil but also chemicals, modern fuels (eg: Low sulphur fuel oil), container contents, plastics and just about anything else carried by sea. Maritime transport is essential to global trade. As a recent European maritime Safety Agency report revealed, 77% of European external trade and 35% of all trade by value between EU Member States moved by sea, maritime transport is a key part of the international supply chain. This reliance is going to increase in the short term as we recover from COVID and national economies start to grow again.
Rapid and effective response is essential to protect the oceans and to protect the life within but also to protect human health as this excellent article makes very clear!