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Reducing the Risk of Chemical and Oil Spills from Shipping

Oil Tanker

Oil tanker

There is a place in Australia which calls itself the shipwreck coast. In the past, shipwrecks especially along coasts were very common because the ship’s captains and crew had much poorer navigational equipment on their ships and less safety rules.

Today’s ships have:

  • Echo sounders that shows how deep the water is
  • Radar that locates land and other vessels
  • GPS (Global Positioning Satellites) allow ships to pinpoint their exact location on the globe.
  • Computers with GPS can assist navigation and control of the ship.
  • Communications allow ships to communicate with ports and emergency authorities

Taking oil spills seriously

In 1989 an oil tanker, the Exxon Valdez struck a rock and spilled 34,000 tonnes, (about one third of its cargo) of thick polluting crude oil into the sea. This oil spill devastated a pristine Arctic environment.

Like most oil tankers in those days it was a single hull oil tanker. Many people thought at the time that if the Exxon Valdez had been built with a double hull only a small amount of oil would have been lost.

Learning from this disaster all the world’s 2000 single hull tankers are being replaced. Since 1996 only double hull tankers have been built and the last single hull tankers will be taken out of service by 2010.

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