§ Mr. Michael Spicer
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will list the difficulties and objections to burning oil remaining in a wrecked tanker.
§ Mr. Clinton Davis
These include difficulties of boarding to place explosive charges, without serious risk to life; getting air to the oil cargo to secure effective combusion; the risk of leaving unburned heavy residues which are difficult to clear; causing the vessel to disintegrate and thus increasing pollution; and the amount of pollution of the atmosphere which is acceptable. Pumping out the cargo is usually preferable, and the point at which to abondon this course in favour of attempting to ignite the oil constitutes a difficult decision; some oil will not burn in this way. Research on burning oil in stricken tankers is under consideration, in consultation with leading British oil companies.