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Pollution Prevention and Control-safe Transportation of Hazardous Goods by Tankers

The consequences of tanker accidents are often catastrophic, as can be vividly attested by the recent disasters of the Erika and Prestige, raising the issue of oil spills to the highest priority for the EU community. The POP&C project aims to address this issue head on by focusing on prevention and mitigation in ship design and operation for existing and new vessels.

Tags: Water


Stricter international regulation enacted in the early 1990s and advances made in design and safe operation of tankers saw a significant improvement in the tanker industry safety record. According to The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation, oil pollution from tankers for the period 1997-2003 was only 25% of the pollution for the period 1990-1996. The total number of reported tanker incidents with pollution for the period 1997-2003 was only 37% of the figure for the period 1990-1996, while at the same time the total oil trade had increased by 15%. Two particular accidents, though, detracted from the tanker industry’s good record. The cause and effect of the Erika (1999) and Prestige (2002) incidents, with their heavy oil cargoes causing extensive pollution on European shores, have had major political, social and economic implications.

Single hull tankers are gradually being phased out, according to the International Maritime Organisation’s global regime, but last year Europe went beyond international regulations and implemented a unilateral accelerated phase-out, which has since led to the international phase-out being accelerated too. The control system for tankers has also been tightened up at the same time as the industry itself has taken initiatives to ensure that the structural integrity of tankers is maintained to good standards throughout the life of the ships.

This STREP proposal addresses the scientific, technological and wider societal and policy objectives of the Sustainable Surface Transport thematic priority, and particularly by increasing the safety of waterborne transport, through integrating technologies for driving, piloting and manoeuvring assistance to improve safety and maximise the effective capacity of the infrastructure, including the secure transportation of hazardous goods (Research Domain 4.11). The consortium comprises prime protagonists in the area of maritime safety in Europe and is organised to provide all the complimentary capabilities (the partners represent all industry sectors) that are necessary to satisfy the project objectives.


The specific objectives include:

  • developing a risk-based methodology to measure the oil spill potential of tankers
  • developing a risk-based passive pollution prevention methodology (design and operational lines of defence)
  • developing a risk-based, active, post-accident pollution mitigation and control framework.

The POP&C project proposes to deliver a framework and suitable tools for a methodological assessment of risk to be undertaken to provide a rational basis for making decisions pertaining to the design, operation and regulation of oil tankers. Such support can be used to make more informed decisions, which will in turn contribute to reducing the likelihood and severity of future oil spills.

MT Prestige accident
MT Prestige accident

Description of work

The objectives will be achieved by identifying and ranking critical hazards such as collision and grounding, fire and explosion and structural failure (WP2), leading to estimates of probability of capsizing/sinking from loss of stability or structural failure (WP3, WP4), which combined with estimates of consequences within a risk-based framework will provide a pollution risk (WP5).

Risk reduction through preventative measures (WP6) and post-accident mitigation and control measures such as decision support tools, human-machine interface and safe refuge (WP7) will also be developed.

Deliverables include pollution risk methodology and assessment tools, decision-support tools for pollution prevention and crisis management, and design and operational guidelines for containment of pollution risk.


There are currently no exploitable results to publicise.

A number of publications can be obtained through the project website:

The influence of regulations on the safety record of the AFRAMAX tankers
The influence of regulations on the safety record of the AFRAMAX tankers