Germany becomes an important contributor to the Third R&D Forum on High Density Oil Spill Response

In a ceremony at the London Headquarters of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the German Deputy Ambassador to the UK, Dr. Wolf Kischlat, last week presented to the Secretary-General of IMO Mr W.A. O’Neil the contribution of Germany towards the funding of the Third R&D Forum on High Density Oil Spill Response, to be held 11-13 March in Brest, France.

Dr. Kischlat stressed Germany’s commitment to promoting not only maritime safety but also the protection of the marine environment. He drew attention to the growing importance of environmental issues on the IMO agenda, citing the conventions on anti-foulings systems and bunker oil pollution damage that were concluded last year and the ballast water management conference that was scheduled for 2003.

IMO Secretary General William O’Neil welcomed the support of Germany for IMO’s work in promoting safer shipping and cleaner seas.  He stressed that the R&D Forum in March will focus on state-of-the art response at sea to pollution by high-density oils. Recent years have seen a number of significant developments in this field and, in accordance with the 1990 International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation, Governments and IMO are playing an active role both by promoting R&D and exchanging information.

Funding for the event, which has a total budget of more than US$200,000 has come from a number of government and industry sources. Other Governments joining Germany in making contributions are Canada, France, Japan, the Netherlands and the USA, as well as the European Commission. Industry sources include the Independent Tanker Owners’ Pollution Federation (ITOPF), the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA), the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST) and the oil company BP.

Although the safety standards of ships continue to improve and accident rates are falling,  accidents such as those involving ships like the Nakhodka in Japan, the Erika off the coast of Brittany and most recently the Baltic Carrier in the Baltic Sea confirm the urgent need for further development and dissemination of techniques to enable coastal States to respond rapidly and effectively to spills of high density oils. In addition to technological development, the Forum will therefore also focus on the operational aspects of combating oil pollution, such as training and the effective use of equipment.

Underlining its own commitment to providing modern equipment for emergency oil or chemical spill response, Germany has recently put into service a third multi-purpose vessel, the Neuwerk, to carry out operations such as recovery of spilled substances and lost packages at sea. Deployment of these vessels is under the control of the Maritime Disaster Coordination Centre in Cuxhaven, which will shortly assume the overall responsibility for coordinating all German maritime emergency operations.

Notes to Editors

1. Further information on the Third R&D Forum on High Density Oil Spill Response is available on IMO’s website www.imo.org.

2. Further information on German policy on international maritime matters including anti-pollution measures can be found on the websites of the Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (www.bmu.de) and the Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration (www.wsv.de).

3. A photograph of Mr. O’Neil accepting the donation from Dr. Kischlat is available from the IMO Public Information Office, details below.

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IMO – the International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations Specialized Agency with responsibility for the safety of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

Web site: www.imo.org

For further information please contact:
Lee Adamson, Public Information Manager on 020 7587 3153 (ladamson@imo.org) or
Natasha Brown, Information Officer on 020 7587 3274 (nbrown@imo.org).