ISU reports increase in pollution prevention figures

ISU members carried out 252 salvage services in 2017, a rise on the previous year (Smit Salvage) ISU members carried out 252 salvage services in 2017, a rise on the previous year (Smit Salvage)

The International Salvage Union (ISU) has presented its annual pollution prevention survey indicating trends enforcing the importance of the professional salvage industry.

Recorded services by ISU members rose to 252 (up from 213 in 2016) to vessels carrying 3,405,477 tonnes of potentially polluting cargoes during operations in 2017’. The data comes from its annual Pollution Prevention Survey which was re-based in 2014 to include a wider range of potential pollutants including containers and hazardous and dirty bulk cargoes.

The most significant factor in the increase in 2017 is a larger number of bulk cargoes including products such as: ammonium nitrate, coal, scrap steel, grains, soya and cement. While a number of bulk cargoes are not included as potential pollutants, ISU members also provided services to bulk carriers carrying 845,976 tonnes of non-hazardous dry bulk, chiefly ores.

At ISU media briefings attended by MJ, attention is regularly drawn to the increasing size of container ships and subsequent challenges for salvors dealing with casualty situations, particularly when containers need to be removed as part of the operation. At the time of publication of the statistics, salvors were battling with a major fire on the large container ship Maersk Honam in the Arabian Sea, a tragedy that claimed the lives of four seafarers with another reported missing.

ISU report that the number of containers involved in salvage cases more than doubled from 21,244 TEU in 2016 to 45,655 TEU in 2017, a figure that reflects the size of container ships, when a small increase in the number of container vessel salvage cases can add significantly to the TEU total. Bunker fuel, at 135,995 tonnes showed another significant increase on the 2016 figure of 89,492 tonnes.

Commenting on the survey, Charo Coll, ISU president said: “After saving life, protection of the marine environment is the priority in all salvage operations. The results of this survey demonstrate clearly of how our members’ services have helped to protect the marine environment from potential damage.

“ISU does not suggest that all of these potential pollutants were at imminent risk of going into the sea. Some cases will have been benign, but others will have carried a real environmental threat. It only takes one major incident to cause an environmental disaster, so it is worth considering what might have occurred in some of these cases if there had not been a professional salvor available and willing to intervene. Our members have undoubtedly helped to prevent the environmental and financial consequences of a significant pollution event.”

By Peter Barker

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