Every year, oil spills occur throughout the world , but only a few of these spills attracts attention because the oil rarely hits the coasts. It is only when the oil hits the coast that public attention is generated.
So far, the Danish coasts, ports and waters have been spared major oil spills, but there is obviously no guarantee that a major incident will not occur. Experience also shows that even minor oil spills of a few tons of oil originating from ships' fuel tanks can have major environmental consequences. The growing shipping traffic may well mean that in the future we will see more, but perhaps smaller, oil spills.
We have also seen accidents and oil spills from ships and tank farms in ports, due to both human error and technical accidents. These mistakes will continue to happen, regardless of automation and training efforts. Today, many ports are an integral part of the cities' recreational space, and consequently the ports are overly sensitive to environmental impact even in the form of very small oil spills. Thus, it would be a good idea to introduce regulations prescribing certain types of ships in selected ports to apply floating barriers around the ship when berthing.
An Obvious Solution
There are many examples of a completely inadequate marine environment contingency, resulting in a long response time and inefficient efforts when the accident occurred, leading to consequent aggravation of the accident.
FLEX-FEB believes that this is due to the fact that in most countries, the marine environmental response plan is based on a few large special-purpose vessels, which require specially trained crews to operate the specialized equipment. This leads to a long response time and a relatively limited contingency capacity, as it is costly to maintain a 24/7 contingency with specially equipped units and specially trained crews.
Even the best marine environment contingency cannot prevent oil spills or pollution accidents, but with a functional marine environmental contingency based on flexible environment barges, responsive actions can be launched quickly and efficiently - especially close to the coast, where the importance of effective action cannot be exaggerated. Once the pollution hits the coast, up to 60 times more material must be collected compared to the pollution being collected at sea.
FLEX-FEB is of the opinion that many marine environment contingency plans could be significantly strengthened - and at a significantly lower cost - if the marine environment contingency is organized functionally and the use of flexible environmental barges and lipophilic flow barriers envisaged.
You can read more about oil spills in FLEX-FEB’s White Paper, which can be downloaded by clicking here (currently in Danish only).