Accurate statistical data required for spill response strategic planning provides a valuable resource to assist in responding to an increasing number of queries from the media, interest groups and the general public. It also provides valuable input for risk assessment, to government projects such as the State of the Environment Report and is a measure of the effectiveness of the pollution prevention measures being progressively implemented.
AMSA uses the following definitions in maintaining the database:
‘Oil discharges’ refers to any discharges or suspected operational discharges of oil from (a) vessel(s) in excess of the permitted discharge rate under MARPOL (generally 15 parts per million oil in water).
‘Oil spills’ refers to accidental spills resulting from incidents such as groundings or collisions as well as spills during bunkering resulting from overflow of tanks, burst hoses, etc.
AMSA’s pollution database currently contains over 6,700 records. Information is entered from the following sources:
- Oil discharge reports received through AMSA’s Emergency Response Division (ER), which includes reports from aircraft (Coastwatch, RAAF and civilian) as well as from vessels at sea;
- Records of National Plan expenditure in responding to oil spills;
- Incident reports submitted by State/NT authorities; and
- Other sources (eg Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources, industry, the public).
At least 25 per cent of the reports received by AMSA are ultimately not entered onto the database. Reasons for not entering a reported pollution sighting include where the sighting is or is strongly suspected to be one of the following:
- Land sourced, including tank farms, road tanker accidents, drains or road runoff after heavy rain (unless some response activity is required and/ or National Plan response costs are incurred);
- Coral spawn or marine algae or similar occurrence, taking into account the location of the report and the time of the year;
- Discoloured water with no sheen;
- Washings of coal dust from bulk carriers; or
- Discharge of a sewage outfall.
The completeness of the information included in this database cannot be guaranteed, as only those incidents reported to AMSA are included. AMSA does, however, make every effort to ensure the data is as complete as possible.
Oil Pollution Statistics for 2003-2004
There were 322 oil discharge sightings and oil spills reported during 2003-2004. National Plan resources were involved in 118 oil spill incidents which required a response action under National Plan arrangements.
(Note that the criteria applied for 2003-2004 is different to Annual Reports prior to 2002-2003, in that it now includes all incidents where a response was undertaken regardless of whether direct costs were claimed from the National Plan.)
Figure 1 shows a break up of sources of reported oil spills during 2003-2004.
Oil Pollution Sources
Figure 2 indicates the types of vessels from which discharges were reported during 2003-2004. The source of 32 sightings during the period was not identified, although the majority are assumed to be ship-sourced.
Chemical Pollution Statistics for 2003-2004
There were eight ship-sourced chemical spills reported during 2003-2004.
Incidents in Australian Waters 2003-2004
During 2003-2004, there were no major ship-sourced marine pollution incidents in Australian waters. For further details on significant incidents that occurred in the States and Northern Territory click here.