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Oil Spillages

Volume 172: debated on Thursday 17 May 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will give details of the clean-up cost for the oil slick in the English Channel from the Rosebay; and how this cost will be apportioned between (a) his Department, (b) the oil producer, (c) the oil transporter and (d) local community charge payers.

The Rosebay is registered in a state which is a signatory to the international convention on civil liability for oil pollution damage. The owners of the vessel are thus strictly liable for any pollution damage including prevention and clean-up costs. Whilst the owner of a tanker is entitled to limit liability based on the ship's tonnage, in this instance that liability is about £8 million and insurance or other financial security has to be maintained in that sum. This should be more than sufficient to meet all the clean-up costs likely to be incurred by Her Majesty's Government and local authorities in dealing with the oil slick. These cannot be assessed at such an early stage of an on-going operation, but they could well be in excess of £1 million.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will give details of the location of all oil tanker spillages off the British coast in the last 30 years, the tankers involved and the amount of oil spilled.

Details of incidents between 1970 and 1979 involving the Department's clean-up organisation are listed in table 9·2 of the eighth report of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (Cmnd. 8358). The information from 1980 onwards is not readily available in the form requested. I will therefore write to the hon. Member giving details as soon as I can.