Protecting the marine and coastal environments is a key role of members of the ISU. Often they are the only agency available to prevent a casualty from becoming an environmental catastrophe. They can help to prevent groundings, re-float vessels and remove polluting cargoes and fuel.

The work of the members of the ISU includes “traditional” pollution prevention and clean up using booms, skimmers, absorbents and beach cleaning. It also includes “high tech” interventions, for example, removing potentially polluting cargoes and bunker fuel from casualties and wrecks at great depth.

ISU members are expert at “hot tapping” to gain access to pollutants and to cleanly and safely remove them by drilling into the vessel from outside the hull. They use probes to extract the pollutants which might need heating to liquefy them in the cold surroundings of the deep ocean.

The ISU annual pollution prevention survey records the amount of pollutants involved in the casualty and wreck cases dealt with each year by its members. It includes hundreds of thousands of tonnes of oil and hundreds of thousands of tonnes of dirty bulk cargo, chemicals and bunker fuel.

Over the past 25 years, ISU members have, on average each year, provided services to vessels carrying more than 1 million tonnes of potential pollutants. For the latest ISU Pollution Prevention Statistics, see