Issued 16 March 2011

The International Salvage Union (ISU) today announced the results of its annual Pollution Prevention Survey for 2010. The results show a significant decrease in the tonnages of pollutants salved by ISU members in 2010 compared with 2009. There was a corresponding fall in the number of salvage services performed by members of the ISU.

The total of all pollutants salved in 2010 was 574,386 tonnes compared with 2009’s total of 1,018,872 tonnes. It is a fall of 44%.
 The average annual figure for the 16 years for which data is available continues to exceed one million tonnes of potential pollutants recovered per year.

In 2010 the major changes were a significant decrease in the quantity of crude oil salved – down 74% from 743,506 tonnes in 2009 to 195,300 tonnes. However the figure for 2009 was larger than is typical due to salvage services provided by ISU members to two large tankers.

Similarly, the volume of chemical cargoes salved fell 71% to 32,561 from 2009’s 112,740. The category of “other pollutants” also showed a significant rise – 309% up from 62,853 tonnes in 2009 to 257,158 tonnes in 2010. This is explained by salvage services provided to two vessels carrying large cargoes totalling 170,000 tonnes of kerosene.

2010 Pollution Prevention Results

2009 2010 % variation
Number of services 204 166 -19%
Crude oil salved 743,506 195,300 -74%
Bunker fuel salved 99,753 89,367 -10%
Chemicals salved 112,740 32,561 -71
Other pollutants

62,853 257,158 +309%
Totals 1,018,872 574,386 -44%

All figures in tonnes

 The Lloyd’s Open Form salvage contract continued to be the most widely used contract with 57 services (56 in 2009). The number of wreck removals was down 2 to 9. Four other salvage contracts were used and 96 services were carried out on a fixed price basis, 34 down from 2009.

A total of 27 casualties needed to be lightened of all or some of their pollutants by ship to ship transfer, a 50% increase on 2009.

Commenting on the results, ISU President, Todd Busch, said: “These numbers show how variable our industry is year on year. They also show how provision of salvage services to casualties carrying large quantities of crude oil can dramatically increase the figures – as they did in 2009.

“Even though the numbers are generally well down on the previous year, our members’ work has yet again helped to prevent serious and damaging marine pollution. While not every vessel salved was a real threat to the environment, there can be no doubt that our members’ services to vessels carrying over 500,000 tonnes of potential pollutants were of benefit to the environment. And, to give some context, during the same year the US administration estimated that some 700,000 tonnes of oil was spilled into the Gulf of Mexico in its worst environmental disaster.”

The ISU’s Pollution Prevention Survey began in 1994. In the 16 years to end-2010, ISU salvors have recovered 16,550,683 tonnes of potential pollutants, an average of over one million tonnes per year. This consists of 12,613,300 tonnes of crude oil (and diesel oil); 1,009,879 tonnes of chemicals; 1,281,376 tonnes of bunker fuel and 1,646,067 tonnes of “other pollutants” (recorded as a separate category for the first time in 1997.)

For further information contact:

James Herbert, Communications adviser, ISU: 
+ 44 (0)7979 855126