Spill Notification Point

Notification should be made to the nearest Centre Règional Opérationnel de Surveillance et de Sauvetage (CROSS) (regional operational surveillance and rescue centres):

CROSS Gris-Nez (Manche Est - Pas-de-Calais)
Audighen - 62179 WISSANT
Tel : +33 (operations)

CROSS Corsen (Manche Ouest)
Pointe de Corsen - 29229 PLOUARZEL
Tel. : +33 (operations)

CROSS La Garde (Méditerranée)
Fort Sainte-Marguerite - 83730 LA GARDE
Tel. : +33 4 94 61 16 16 (operations)

CROSS Jobourg (Manche Centrale)
BP no.5 - 50440 BEAUMONT HAGUE
Tel. : +33 (operations)

CROSS Etel (Atlantique)
Avenue Louis Bougo
Château de la Garenne - 56410 ETEL
Tel. : +33 (operations)

MRSC Aspretto (Méditerranée)
Base navale d’Aspretto- BP 50968
20700 Ajaccio cedex 9
Tel. : +33 (operations)

Competent National Authority

Tel. : +33 233 92 60 61 / +33 233 92 60 40
Fax. : +33 233 92 59 26

Tel. : +33 494 02 14 86 / +33 494 92 89 38
Fax. : +33 494 02 13 63

Tel. : +33 298 22 12 23 / +33 298 22 05 36
Fax : +33 298 22 13 19

Response Arrangements

Response arrangements are governed by the “At sea pollution response” section of ORSEC MARITIME (Organisation de la Réponse de SÉcurité Civile), France’s civil defence plan.  Responsibility for preparing for and conducting clean-up operations at sea lies with one of three Maritime Préfets (one for the Mediterranean Sea, one for the Atlantic and one for the North Sea/Channel). 

For shoreline clean-up, small-scale incidents can be handled by the coastal communal authorities directly affected. In the case of a major pollution incident, the Préfet of the affected Département would take charge.

In each case, the Maritime Préfet will work in cooperation with the Secrétariat Général de la Mer who has the authority, amongst others, to access the various stockpiles of equipment. Central coordination of the ORSEC Maritime operations is provided by the Minister of the Interior, with advice from various ministries, and the Secrétariat Général de la Mer in the operational centre of Civil Defence and Security (CODISC). Coordination of sea and shoreline clean-up would be supervised locally by a permanent conference with representatives of the Maritime Préfet and the Préfet of the particular Département concerned.

Response Policy

French clean-up policy advocates both mechanical recovery and the use of dispersants, as the situation determines. Geographical limits for dispersant application along the French coast have been defined, depending on the quantity of oil to be dispersed. The decision to use dispersants is made by the Maritime Préfet on a case-by-case basis.  Before giving authority to spray, the Maritime Préfet refers to experts, such as CEDRE (Centre for Documentation, Research and Experimentation on Accidental Water Pollution) and CEPPOL (Centre of Practical Expertise for Marine Pollution Response – French Navy), and has access to specialised technical documents such as sensitivity charts designed by state environmental coastal services, ecological guidelines from IFREMER (French Institute for Research into Exploitation of the Sea) and NEBA tools.



The Maritime Préfets and Département Préfets rely on the resources provided under ORSEC Maritime by the Ministry of Defence through the Navy, the Ministère des Transports and the independent port authorities. Stockpiles of shoreline response equipment and materials, maintained by DTMPL (Direction du Transport Maritime des Ports et du Littoral) of the Ministry of Equipment are located at 11 major ports (Dunkerque, Le Havre, Cherbourg, Brest, Le Verdon, St. Nazaire, Lorient, Marseille, Sète, Toulon and Ajaccio). The size and nature of these stockpiles varies but most consist of a mixture of containment & recovery and shoreline cleaning equipment, high pressure pumps, storage tanks etc. At Le Havre, Cherbourg, Brest, Lorient, Port de Bouc, Toulon and Ajaccio these are coupled with ORSEC Maritime stockpiles under the responsibility of the Ministry of Defence through the Navy. These include large ocean skimmers, heavy boom, dispersant spraying equipment and stocks of dispersants. Dispersant is also stockpiled at a number of other coastal sites and on vessels, most of which rely on their fire monitors as a means of application. Several strike teams of 30 trained men of the Civil Defence Corps, equipped with a selection of response equipment, are situated at Nogent (Paris), Rochefort, Brignoles and Corte on permanent standby. They will initiate an onshore clean-up operation and subsequently train local people in the use of equipment.


Most major oil terminals and port authorities have some equipment for operational spills. A large industry-owned stockpile (FOST - Fast Oil Spill Team) consisting of inshore and shoreline clean-up equipment, in Marseille, may be used outside the port area. A salvage company also owns some clean-up stocks in addition to lightering facilities and has its tugs on permanent standby for the Maritime Préfet

Previous Spill Experience

Major incidents in French waters have occurred on the Atlantic seaboard in the vicinity of Brest or Le Havre. The first serious spill to affect French beaches was the TORREY CANYON (1967).  The AMOCO CADIZ (1978) provided the impetus for the revision of the Plan POLMAR (formerly France’s National Contingency Plan) which was later implemented during the TANIO (1980) incident.  The sinking of the HAVEN (1991) off Genoa led to a small amount of oil entering French waters. Booms and netting systems with weir skimmers were used. Beached oil was recovered manually.  Major clean-up operations were launched following a spill of Heavy Fuel Oil from the ERIKA (1999), which broke in two in the Bay of Biscay contaminating 400km of French coastline.  This incident led to international discussions on tanker safety and the adequacy of the current compensation regimes.  Other major incidents include the LYRIA (1993) off Fos and the GINO (1979) & AMAZZONE (1988) off Brest.

Hazardous & Noxious Substances

The competent authority for dealing with marine pollution involving HNS is one of the 3 Maritime Préfets.  Contingency arrangements for HNS spills are integrated within the “At sea pollution response” section of the ORSEC MARITIME plans. French Navy stockpiles include specific equipment for response to spills of HNS (ie protective suits, containers for leaking barrels, etc).  France also has some specialised equipment for surveillance, monitoring and evaluation of HNS pollution in the marine environment, including modelling software, sampling devices and instruments for measuring toxic atmospheres.  In the event of a spill, specialist advice would be provided by CEDRE, INERIS (National Institute for Risk Evaluation), CEPPOL, IFREMER and French navy firemen and laboratories. France has been involved in a number of HNS incidents, including IEVOLI SUN (2000, styrene, méthyléthylcétone), ECE (2006, phosphoric acid) and BOW EAGLE (1988, Ethyl acetate).


Prevention & Safety

MARPOL Annexes

Spill Response



'69 '76 '92 '92Fund

* not yet in force  The conventions are extended to the following dependent territories: Clipperton; French Guiana; French Polynesia; Guadeloupe; Martinique; Mayotte; New Caledonia; Reunion; St. Pierre and Miquelon; Southern and Antarctic Territories; Wallis and Futuna Islands and various Indian Ocean islands including Tromelin, Juan de Nova, Bassas de India, Glorieuse and Europa (see separate Profiles where appropriate).

Regional & Bilateral Agreements

  • Barcelona Convention (with states bordering the Mediterranean)
  • Bonn Agreement (with countries bordering the North Sea).
  • Lisbon Agreement (with Portugal, Spain & Morocco)
  • Manche Plan (a bilateral agreement with United Kingdom)
  • Mediplan (a bilateral agreement with Italy) covering the Tyrrhenian Sea and Ligurian Sea
  • RAMOGE (a trilateral agreement with Italy and Monaco)
  • BISCAYE Plan (bilateral agreement with Spain to strengthen cooperation in the Bay of Biscay)
  • LION Plan (bilateral agreement with Spain)
  • Member of the European Community Task Force

For further information see also REMPEC (Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea) Country Profile (

Date of issue: September 2013

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