Dr Michael O'Brien, Mr. Richard Johnson, Ms. Helen Thomas
Paper presented at: Interspill 2004. Clean Seas - Global Concern, Local Solutions, Trondheim, Norway, 14-17 June 2004
It is often observed after large oil spills that there is pressure to review and change the oil spill prevention and emergency response system. In recent years this was true following the SEA EMPRESS (1996) which resulted in a reorganisation of responsibilities in the UK, the ERIKA (1999) which resulted in new IMO rules on tanker standards and the BALTIC CARRIER (2001) which resulted in a HELCOM review of response techniques. It is also true of the PRESTIGE (2002) which has focused much attention in Europe on the availability of response resources for at sea containment and recovery.
The purpose of the following paper is to aid in the evaluation of response preparedness and available means in Europe. This is done by reviewing the different types of public and private organisations responsible for at-sea response, by providing the latest numbers of specialised and non-specialised oil-spill response vessels available to competent national authorities in Europe and by discussing the key role played by regional and sub-regional mutual-aid agreements.