HC Deb 24 February 1998 vol 307 c135W
Mr. Oaten

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what advice his Department has issued on methods of aerial spraying to be used following oil spills; and what reports his Department has received in the last two years on the effectiveness of methods of tackling oil spills. [30284]

Ms Glenda Jackson

The Marine Pollution Control Unit (MPCU) of my Department's Coastguard Agency is responsible for the Government's response to oil spills. The MPCU receive few requests for advice on this method of combating marine oil spills, but when it does it makes reference to:

  1. (a) "IMO/UNEP Guidelines on Oil Spill Dispersant Application" published by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO-575E).
  2. (b) Advice on the use of dispersants in the UK is contained in the MAFF booklet. "The approval and use of Oil Dispersants in the UK".
  3. (c) The International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association have also produced a document "Dispersants and their role in oil spill response".

The Government last reviewed the use of oil dispersants in 1995. The final report of the review, published by MAFF in January 1996, concluded that Retaining oil dispersants as a means of dealing with spilt oil when economic and environmental resources are at risk is fully justified.

The recently published report by the Sea Empress Environmental Evaluation Committee "The Environmental Impact of the Sea Empress Oil Spill" (ISBN 0–11–702156–3) published by the Stationery Office, assessed the effectiveness of the clean-up in Pembrokeshire. This assessment looked at all aspects of the clean-up in detail. The general conclusions found that the clean-up was well managed and that the use of aerial spraying of dispersants considerably reduced the quantity of oil impacting the shoreline and will have had significant environmental benefits.