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Volunteers and oil spills - a technical perspective (2011)
22 May 2014
Andrew Tucker, Senior Technical Adviser; Dr Michael O'Brien, Technical Team Manager
A paper presented at the International Oil Spill Conference, Portland Oregon, USA, 23-26 May 2011
Many oil spill cases around the world have experienced significant volunteer turnouts. One of the most recent was the HEBEI SPIRIT incident in South Korea in 2007, where 10,500 tonnes of crude oil were spilled, 400km of shoreline were contaminated and 1.2 million volunteers came to help. The sheer number of people involved in such cases can, however, create extra issues that add to the core work of cleaning up the spill. The use of volunteers in oil spills has been far from consistent and there have been many incidents where volunteers did not attend, were actively discouraged or even prohibited from participating.
This paper reviews the use of volunteers in oil spills based on ITOPF experience and describes some of the factors which may influence volunteer turnout, such as management attitudes towards volunteers and the role of the media.