File this one under Safety & Security: Here’s something that might be of interest to those cruising the oceans. Whatever you’re sailing – sailboat, tall ship, motor yacht – you need to know where the underwater hazards are. Plus it would be good to know where the next oil spill may take place, right?
An international survey (Michel et al., 2005) has identified over 8,500 sunken shipwrecks in marine waters around the world, including more than 1,500 sunken tank vessels (≥ 150 gross tons) and nearly 7,000 sunken non-tank vessels (≥ 400 gross tons). These wrecks may contain as much as 20 million tons (140 million barrels) of oil and other hazardous materials. Sporadic or continuous leakages or potential sudden massive spillages from these wrecks, 75 percent of which stem from World War II, pose a continual risk across the globe.
The problem of potentially-polluting wrecks has long been discussed and recent incidents around the world have caused government agencies and responsible parties to look at preventing catastrophic oil and other chemical releases from long submerged shipwrecks.
The risk of oil and other hazardous materials seeping out of sunken shipwrecks is growing yearly, and the likelihood of leakage or even a massive spill occurring increases, as do the potential costs. Taking a proactive rather than a reactive approach to mitigating this risk will save not only dollars in response costs, but also reduce the threat of environmental and socioeconomic damages.
From the viewpoint of environmental and economic impacts, there is little difference between oil spilling from a sunken vessel and oil spilling from a modern day vessel casualty, with the exception that, while there is no way to predict the location or timing of the next major oil spill, potentially-polluting wreck sites are known and the probability of an spill event is quantifiable or even inevitable. There is ample evidence that there are a large number of wrecks in coastal waters that are spills waiting to happen.
Sponsored by the American Salvage Association (ASA) and the North American Marine Environmental Protection Association (NAMEPA), this conference, “Wrecks of the World II: Evaluating and Addressing Potential Underwater Threats,” will aim to provide an opportunity for an objective review and discussion of the current state of potentially polluting wrecks and to offer considerations to address the problem. The conference will be held at MITAGS in the Washington, DC Area (Linthicum Heights, Maryland), USA from June 6-7, 2011.
From: The Maritime Exectutive