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What happens in Australia if an oil or chemical spill happens?

Images supplied courtesy of AMSA

We are lucky living in Australia because oil and chemical spills from ships are quite rare events. This is because of several things:

  • We have a good system of what are called 'Port State Control inspections' where surveyors who work for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) inspect foreign ships coming to our ports to make sure they meet all the international safety and marine environment regulations. This system makes sure that only safe and well-run ships come to Australia.
  • We usually have good weather most of the year; there are not too many storms which could harm a ship and very little fog which sometimes causes ships to collide with each other.
  • Compared to the ports of countries in Europe and Asia such as China and Japan, we have relatively few ships visiting our ports. This is because Australia has a small population compared with other countries so we do not import or export as much cargo, This means fewer ships  and fewer ships mean fewer accidents such as collisions and groundings and so fewer oil spills.

We are also lucky in Australia because there is a very good emergency service operated jointly between various government and industry organisations called Australia's National Plan to Combat Pollution of the Sea by Oil and other Noxious and Hazardous Substances. The National Plan is administered by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

If you would like to find out how the National Plan works go to

If you would like information about some of the larger or more complex oil spills that have happened in Australia go to

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