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?

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DISCOBIOL: Assessment of the impact of dispersant use for oil spill response in coastal or estuarine areas (2014)

The DISCOBIOL research program aims to provide practical recommendations on dispersant use in coastal and estuarine areas by acquiring relevant (in terms of likely dispersed oil concentrations) and robust experimental information on the impact of mechanically and chemically dispersed oil on living resources.

Categories: Papers , Response Techniques, Dispersants

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The adaptation of mariculture practices in response to spilled oil (1999)

Oil spills may contaminate both mariculture facilities and livestock. Prevention of oiling should therefore be afforded a high priority. A number of traditional spill response measures but also self-help response options are open to mariculturalists, that may avoid or limit the effects of spilled oil. The advantages and drawbacks of each of these approaches in the context of oil spill response are discussed.

Categories: Papers , Response Techniques, Environmental effects, Wildlife

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Does cleaning oiled seabirds have conservation value? Insights from the South African experience with African Penguins (2007)

Although there is general consensus among investigators that large numbers of seabirds are killed as a result of oil spills, there is disagreement, mostly in the northern hemisphere, about the extent to which oil mortality is biologically significant to local, regional and global populations.

Categories: Papers , Response Techniques, Environmental effects, Wildlife

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To carry or not to carry? Onboard spill response equipment - Is it practicable? (1998)

The question as to whether oil tankers should carry oil spill response equipment onboard has been the subject of debate for many years. The idea received considerable attention in the previous decade during the preparation of regulations by the United States Coast Guard as a result of the US Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA'90).

Categories: Papers , Response Techniques, Planning & operations

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When should clean-up operations be brought to a close - How clean is clean? (1998)

At the outset of a major oil spill, it is hard to imagine how shorelines inundated with the thick black pollutant will ever be cleaned or that they will ever return to their original condition. Two facts are known as a result of these unfortunate experiences: first, these shorelines are eventually cleaned and second, that nature plays a very large part in that cleaning process.

Categories: Papers , Response Techniques

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New directions in marine pollution control (1999)

The paper begins by examining the incidence of major marine oil spills from tankers and other types of ships before describing the potential for controlling the resulting pollution.

Categories: Papers , Response Techniques

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Oil spill response - Experience, trends and challenges (2000)

The paper begins by reviewing the dramatic reduction in the incidence of major tanker spills since the beginning of the 1980s. The paper then focuses on the factors that determine the seriousness of marine oil spills and the fundamental technical difficulties of combating them at-sea, in coastal waters and on shorelines.

Categories: Papers , Response Techniques

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Management and work force requirements for effective shoreline cleaning operations (2000)

Based on ITOPF's extensive experience of spill clean-up around the world and quantitative data from recent spills in the UK, France, Turkey and Argentina, the paper will examine the wide range of technical, organisational, logistic and financial problems facing those responsible for managing shoreline clean-up operations.

Categories: Papers , Response Techniques

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A review of the problems posed by spills of heavy fuel oils (2001)

This review of the practical lessons which can be learnt from past events is intended to provide an informed basis for the selection of more effective response techniques and equipment, and for the development of improved spill response management and contingency planning

Categories: Papers , Response Techniques

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Persistent vs. non-persistent oils: What you need to know (2001)

The concept of persistence in relation to oil spills probably originated after the Torrey Canyon incident in 1967. This is when discussions first arose regarding various new measures to protect the marine environment and to manage marine oil spills, particularly in relation to liability and compensation.

Categories: Papers , Fate of Oil Spills, Response Techniques

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