UK Coastguard Releases Oil Pollution Figures

Following the discovery of oil washed up on beaches on the east coast of England, the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency released figures last week on quantities and sources of oil discharged into the sea around the UK. The greatest source of oil discharged was from oil and gas installations with 71% of the 678 accidental or deliberate discharges reported.

Based on figures from 2001 the study reports on discharges attributed to vessels and offshore oil and gas installations operating in the UK pollution control zone. After offshore oil and gas installations, fishing vessels are the next largest contributor with 11% followed by general cargo vessels 5%, oil and chemical tankers 4% and offshore support vessels 2%. There was an 8.7% reduction in the number of discharges compared to 2000 with the latest study giving a total of 678 reported incidents in 2001 against 743 in the previous year. Tanker and general cargo figures are greatly reduced in terms of both number and quantity compared to the figures for 2000.

The release of the figures comes at a crucial time in the UK as dozens of oiled seabirds have been found on the east coast. Speculation in the media focused on tanker traffic in the area but the study allows for a more holistic assessment and analysis to be made, highlighting the main sources of oil discharged into the sea and refuting the common misconception regarding tankers and operational discharges.

The full press release from the UK MCA can be found on the Maritime and Coastguard agency here

Contact: Tim Wilkins,  e-mail: