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Are post-spill environmental studies becoming the norm? (2015)
31 Mar 2015
Kelly Reynolds, Senior Technical Adviser
Paper presented at INTERSPILL 2015, 24-26 March 2015, Amsterdam
The breadth of research on the environmental impact of oil spills over the past few decades means that the short term effects of oil spills on marine species and communities are reasonably well known and predictable. Nevertheless, concerns are often raised about possible medium to long term population and ecosystem effects, and this, combined with a more environmentally aware general public who demand a greater response to ever smaller incidents, means that governments often need to be able to demonstrate that possible effects of a spill on the marine environment have been studied. However, is necessary or appropriate to conduct a post-spill study following every single oil spill incident?
This paper will use information from ITOPF attended incidents to look at trends in conducting post-spill studies, and offer a number of possible reasons for these trends; including a general heightened awareness of environmental issues leading to a shift in attitudes and expectations as well as legislative changes. The paper will also look at the implications of these trends for those involved with such studies and re-examine the ideal drivers for scientifically robust post-spill studies.