Members of the International Salvage Union (ISU) provided 186 services to vessels carrying 2.6M tonnes of potentially polluting cargo and fuel during operations in 2022, highlighting the critical role of professional salvors in protecting the marine environment, says an article published on Rivera.
This was 40 fewer services than in 2021, a drop of 18%, but 9% more pollution was saved, indicating the ships salvaged were carrying more cargo in 2022.
This data comes from ISU’s Annual Pollution Prevention Survey for operations in 2022, which relies on information provided by its members.
World’s largest bulk carriers
Almost half of the total pollution saved, 1.24M tonnes, was from ships transporting hazardous bulk cargo, which was 190% greater than in 2021, showing more of the world’s largest bulk carriers suffered propulsion and navigation problems and required salvage services in 2022.
There was also a 230% increase in the tonnage of chemical cargoes saved, to 79,319 tonnes, signifying the increasing number of chemical carriers suffering problems during voyages.
The volume of crude oil saved from entering the marine environment through emergency response rose 36% to 140,900 tonnes, and a 21% increase to 108,112 tonnes in the bunkers saved.
Containers were the second-largest type of pollution saved by salvors in 2022, with ISU members providing services to ships carrying almost 50,000 TEU, amounting to some 747,270 tonnes of cargo.
Demonstrated that reliance
“We are all now so much more aware of, and careful about, the environment,” says ISU president Nicholas Sloane.
“But we all need shipping, and incidents like the Suez Canal blockage [by Ever Given in March 2021] demonstrated that reliance.
Insurance industries recognise
“The shipping and insurance industries recognise their responsibilities and the importance of maintaining their ‘licence to operate’ and the availability of emergency response services is a critical part of meeting those responsibilities,” says Capt Sloane, who is also Resolve Marine group director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Amount of pollutants
“The number of services fell last year, and each year there can be significant variations of the quantities of pollutants in each category. But overall, the amount of pollutants has stayed consistent,” he clarifies.
Most significant category
“The number of containers is lower than last year but, after bulk cargo, still represents the most significant category. It compares with 141,000 tonnes of crude oil, confirming the shift over the past decades as oil trades have become safer.”
Greater danger to the marine
Capt Sloane discusses the greater danger to the marine environment from containers and the hazards of not knowing the contents of those that go overboard.
“Boxes stuffed with harmful and dangerous goods including plastic pellets (nurdles) represent one of the biggest threats to the marine environment,” he says. “They are potentially very damaging and, with the added issue of misdeclaration of contents, dangerous to deal with.”
Cargoes of refined oil products in ISU 2022’s numbers were similar to crude oil at 144,808 tonnes, a 21% fall compared with 2021.
Bulk cargoes saved includes coal, scrap steel, grains, soya and cement.
Emergency response increase
Different bulk cargoes are not included as potential pollutants but were still saved as ISU members provided services to bulkers carrying 113,926 tonnes of non-hazardous dry bulk – mainly metal ores.
As ships requiring emergency response increase in size, so do the bunkers saved, with ISU members handling 11 cases with more than 2,000 tonnes of bunkers on board and total bunkers involved were 108,112 tonnes.
“The environment, social and governance agenda is so important for shipowners and insurers, and we need to ensure the capability and willingness of commercial salvors to provide vital services around the world is valued and not eroded,” says Capt Sloane.
Marine services contracts
The 186 services in 2022 included 12 wreck removal/marine services contracts; 16 Lloyd’s Open Forms; 38 towage contracts; 4 Japanese forms; 4 lump sum, 5-day rate contracts; 84 other contracts (including commercial terms and common law salvage) and 23 Turkish forms.
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