§ Lord Molloy
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What action they are considering to prevent oil tankers dumping oil or dangerous chemicals in the English Channel and the North Sea.
§ The Minister of State, Department of Transport (Lord Brabazon of Tara)
Under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973, and its protocol, no oil or oily mixtures or chemicals may be discharged within prescribed12WA distances from land; and ships are required to be so designed, equipped and operated that, when a discharge is permitted, the oil or chemical content has to be kept to the minimum specified. We have taken a number of positive measures to enforce the convention. Ships in a United Kingdom port are inspected to check that their pollution prevention equipment and operational practices are satisfactory. Reception facilities are made available to receive oil and chemical residues retained on board. Surveillance aircraft have been employed by the United Kingdom to undertake regular patrols over the shipping lanes around the United Kingdom to detect and deter ships discharging oil in contravention of the convention.
Action has been proposed by a number of North Sea coastal states including the United Kingdom at the International Maritime Organisation to further tighten up on permitted discharges under the convention and to develop and promulgate detailed guidelines on the control of operational requirements related to the safety of ships and pollution prevention. These new discharge limits and inspections will be implemented by the United Kingdom when they come into force internationally.