A risk-based design methodology for pollution prevention and control

Aksu, S. and Vassalos, D. and Tuzcu, C. and Mikelis, N. and Swift, P. (2004) A risk-based design methodology for pollution prevention and control. In: International Conference on Design and Operation of Double Hull Tankers, 2004-02-25 - 2004-02-26.

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Stricter international regulation enacted in the early 1990s and advances made in design and safe operation of tankers saw a significant improvement in the tanker industry safety record. According to The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation, oil pollution from tankers for the period 1997-03 was only 25% of the pollution for the period 1990-1996. The total number of reported tanker incidents with pollution for the period 1997-03 was only 37% of the figure for the period 1990-1996, while at the same time the total oil trade has increased by 15%. Two particular accidents have detracted from the tanker industry’s good record. The cause and effect of the Erika (1999) and Prestige (2002) incidents, with their heavy oil cargoes causing extensive pollution on European shores, have had major political, social and economic implications. Single hull tankers have been gradually being phased out according to the International Maritime Organization’s global regime for more than ten years, but last year Europe went beyond international regulations and implemented a unilateral accelerated phase-out, which has since led to the international phase-out being accelerated too. The control system for tankers has also been tightened up at the same time as the industry itself has taken initiatives to ensure that the structural integrity of tankers is maintained to good standards throughout the life of the ships. Despite the political and economic importance of these issues, some of the relevant new regulation still tends to be made before incidents have been properly investigated. Political pressure rather than proper risk analysis may determine which types of oil tanker pose the highest pollution risk, the relative safety of new tanker designs, or the most appropriate response to an evolving oil pollution incident. To address this issue rationally, the European Commission provided funding to the tune of €2.2 million for a 3-year project entitled “Pollution Prevention and Control – Safe Transportation of Hazardous Goods by Tankers” (POP&C) under Framework Programme 6 (FP6), which started earlier this year. The POP&C project proposes to deliver a framework and suitable tools for a methodological assessment of risk to be undertaken to provide a rational basis for making decisions pertaining the design, operation and regulation of oil tankers. Such support can be used to make more informed decisions, which will in turn contribute to reducing the likelihood and severity of future oil spills. The project brings together prime protagonists from the area of maritime safety in Europe. Deriving from the foregoing exciting developments, it is the purpose of this paper to present the main philosophy behind the POP&C project and to detail and explain the basics of the methodology to be adopted aiming to achieve the specific objectives outlined above