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Documents & Guides
Explore a variety of topics about marine spills, response and compensation matters in the pages below.
Each topic and area of interest provides access to more detailed documentation that is freely downloadable.
This includes our 17 Technical Information Papers which are fully illustrated with photos and diagrams and are available in several languages.
What happens to oil in the marine environment over time when spilled at sea? How do different factors such as volume and physical and chemical properties affect the fate of oil spills?
How does oil impact seabirds, plankton, sea mammals and the shoreline?
Which industries might suffer temporary economic losses and loss of market confidence?
What are the specific chemical response strategies for responding to a Hazardous and Noxious Substance spill, and what are the potential effects on human and marine life?
What information is needed for an effective oil spill contingency plan? How can aerial observation and protective strategies assist with response operations?
What techniques are available for cleaning up oil at sea and on the shoreline?
What planning and waste management systems need to be put in place to reduce the volume of oily waste for treatment or disposal?
What legal arrangements and sources of compensation are available for a spill from a ship?
Explore the resources
Almost one in every five incidents attended by ITOPF in the last five years has involved sunken wrecks and the removal of oil or chemicals from below the sea surface or at least consideration of the feasibility of such operations.
The grounding of the Sea Empress in February 1996 followed the wrecks of the Braer in January 1993 (84,700 tonnes of oil spilled) and the Torrey Canyon in March, 1967 (119,000 tonnes). Volume of oil lost, however, is not necessarily the most important factor in determining the seriousness of a particular incident.
72.000 tonnes of light crude oil were released from the Sea Empress at the entrance to Milford Haven, South Wales over a 7 day period in February 1996, in an area of exceptional environmental value for wildlife, tourism and natural beauty. Natural factors coupled with effective clean-up at sea and on shore, minimised environmental impact.
During a storm on 29 December 1999 the Russian tanker VOLGONEFT 248 broke in two in the Sea of Marmara, off Istanbul, Turkey and spilled 1,578 tonnes of Heavy Fuel Oil. Most of the oil was cast ashore, and was subsequently cleaned up manually, whilst the remaining oil sank in shallow water.
The oil spills from the tanker EVOIKOS off Singapore and the barge PONTOON 300 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were major incidents which severely tested response arrangements in the two countries.
Learning from previous oil spill experiences is very important if predictions are to be made about the possible outcomes of following a particular response strategy in the aftermath of a new incident.
Evaluation of the response by specialised foreign vessels to the release of oil from PRESTIGE (2005)
Following the spill of oil from PRESTIGE, Spain and Portugal called for resources to assist in the response. Over the following month, a major fleet was assembled with sixteen vessels from eight nations. Although a significant volume of oil was subsequently collected at sea the vessels experienced varying degrees of success.
Following the sinking of the tanker PRESTIGE in the Atlantic Ocean in 2002, a consortium headed by the Spanish oil company, REPSOL, designed and implemented a system for the removal of 13,000 tonnes of the vessel's remaining cargo of heavy fuel oil from a depth of some 3,650 metres, some 170 nautical miles off the Spanish coast.
Following the technical triumph of removing most of the oil from the sunken wreck of the PRESTIGE, interest and expectations have been raised in equal measure.