Delaware River disaster could happen in The Solent

Posted on 13 Dec 2004

Just over two weeks ago a 21 year old single bottom tanker struck a submerged object in the Delaware River just south of Philadelphia, USA spilling about 1,500 tons of Venezuelan crude oil which, it has been reported, has created an oil slick stretching up to 45 miles. U.S. politicians are stating this was an “accident waiting to happen” and have called for the introduction of legislation for unlimited liability when an oil spill involves a single hull tanker. The Senators believe this will accelerate the use of only double hull tankers.

This US disaster highlights The Solent Protection Society’s (SPS) campaign to persuade Esso Fawley to use only double hull tankers to ship oil in and out of their Fawley refinery. In 2010 it will become mandatory for the majority of tankers to be double hulled, but SPS believes that Esso Fawley should now be using the safest tankers available for all oil movements – which the industry accepts are those with double hulls.

Additionally SPS calls on Esso Fawley to ensure that in future laden tankers arriving or leaving their installation should avoid the Needles and the western Solent where there are no pilotage or vehicle tracking systems in place.

On 3rd of June this year their chartered chemical carrier ran aground with cargo onboard off Lymington River. Luckily that particular vessel has a double hull and did not cause pollution, but a single hull vessel in a similar incident carrying crude oil could cause untold damage to The Solent and its environment.

Local harbour authorities have noted increasing use of the western Solent by commercial ships when it can be considered a short cut towards Southampton water way.

The Solent Protection Society have launched a crusade to tighten up commercial shipping’s use of our beautiful Solent – we don’t want to be like U.S. Senators making bold statements after a disaster.