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Thursday, December 14, 2017


Salvors have seen the amount of potential pollutants that they prevent from entering the water reduced to some 0.5m tonnes a year, just one quarter of the 2m tonnes a year they were stopping in the early 1990s, says the International Salvage Union (ISU). Why? Because of a consistent lack of large laden tankers running into difficulties.

In the 10 years since the ISU’s annual Pollution Prevention Survey started, the Union’s members prevented some 11m tonnes of potential pollutants from polluting – that’s an average of 1.1m tonnes a year. Last year, ISU members intervened on 606,000 tonnes of potential pollutants during salvage operations, providing emergency assistance to 218 vessels whose cargo and/or bunkers were threatening pollution. This figure is 37% down on 2002’s 957,000 tonnes but that difference is mostly due to one laden VLCC (the first for several years). In fact the 2003 figure is in line with 2001’s 539,000 tonnes and the general trend of recent years.

The 2003 volumes were made up of exactly half crude oil and diesel oil (304,000 tonnes), 10% chemicals (61,000 tonnes), 12% bunker fuel (72,000 tonnes) and 28% other pollutants such as gasoline, slops, dirty ballast (169,000 tonnes). This compares to 81% of the ten-year 11m tonnes total being crude oil and diesel, 6% chemicals, 6% bunker fuel and 7% other pollutants.

Looking at the same thing from a different angle, the tanker industry’s record is also seen to be improving. In 2003 there were 89 salvage cases on Lloyd’s Open Form (LOF). This has been dropping steadily over the last five years from around 120 LOF cases a year. Part of this is that LOF is becoming expensive in terms of awards and costs, but much of the reduction is simply because there have been fewer casualties.