Documents & Guides

Explore a variety of topics about marine spills, response and compensation matters in the pages below.

Each topic and area of interest provides access to more detailed documentation that is freely downloadable.

This includes our 17 Technical Information Papers which are fully illustrated with photos and diagrams and are available in several languages. 


What happens to oil in the marine environment over time when spilled at sea? How do different factors such as volume and physical and chemical properties affect the fate of oil spills? 


How does oil impact seabirds, plankton, sea mammals and the shoreline?  


Which industries might suffer temporary economic losses and loss of market confidence?


What are the specific chemical response strategies for responding to a Hazardous and Noxious Substance spill, and what are the potential effects on human and marine life? 


What information is needed for an effective oil spill contingency plan? How can aerial observation and protective strategies assist with response operations? 


What techniques are available for cleaning up oil at sea and on the shoreline?


What planning and waste management systems need to be put in place to reduce the volume of oily waste for treatment or disposal?


What legal arrangements and sources of compensation are available for a spill from a ship?

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From the Torrey Canyon to today: A 50 year retrospective of recovery from the oil spill and interaction with climate-driven fluctuations on Cornish rocky shores (2017)

This paper highlights lessons learnt from observations stretching back 60 years, both before and after the Torrey Canyon spill, for rocky shore monitoring, especially the need for broad-scale and long-term monitoring to separate out local impacts (such as oil spills) from global climate-driven change.

Categories: Papers , Environmental effects

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The use and misuse of SCAT in spill response (2017)

In this paper we review the use and misuse of SCAT in several recent smallscale incidents and discuss the implications for the wider implementation of SCAT moving forward.

Categories: Papers , Environmental effects

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Are post-spill environmental studies becoming the norm? (2015)

This paper uses information from ITOPF attended incidents to look at trends in conducting post-spill studies, and offer a number of possible reasons for these trends; including a general heightened awareness of environmental issues leading to a shift in attitudes and expectations as well as legislative changes. The paper will also look at the implications of these trends for those involved with such studies and re-examine the ideal drivers for scientifically robust post-spill studies.

Categories: Papers , Environmental effects

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The adaptation of mariculture practices in response to spilled oil (1999)

Oil spills may contaminate both mariculture facilities and livestock. Prevention of oiling should therefore be afforded a high priority. A number of traditional spill response measures but also self-help response options are open to mariculturalists, that may avoid or limit the effects of spilled oil. The advantages and drawbacks of each of these approaches in the context of oil spill response are discussed.

Categories: Wildlife, Papers , Response Techniques, Environmental effects

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Ships and the marine environment (2001)

Ships interact with the environment in which they operate in many ways. Shipping casualties provide the most visual manifestation of the interaction between ships and the marine environment, especially if they result in the death of crew or passengers, or in the release of hazardous cargo or fuel.

Categories: Papers , Environmental effects

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Fishing and harvesting bans in oil spill response (1999)

Fishing and aquaculture harvesting bans are increasingly used as an oil spill management tool, with the intention of protecting public health and consumer markets. Such bans are easily imposed, but a rational basis is needed for maintaining and lifting them. Scientific criteria offer the best prospect for administering fishery bans in a consistent way, but recent marine pollution incidents reveal contradictions in their application.

Categories: Wildlife, Papers , Environmental effects

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Does cleaning oiled seabirds have conservation value? Insights from the South African experience with African Penguins (2007)

Although there is general consensus among investigators that large numbers of seabirds are killed as a result of oil spills, there is disagreement, mostly in the northern hemisphere, about the extent to which oil mortality is biologically significant to local, regional and global populations.

Categories: Wildlife, Papers , Response Techniques, Environmental effects

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The environmental impact of marine oil spills - effects, recovery and compensation (1998)

This paper briefly summarises the impact of oil spills on different components of the marine environment, as well as the potential for natural recovery and man-made restoration/re-instatement measures, as envisaged under the international compensation Conventions.

Categories: Wildlife, Papers , Environmental effects, Compensation

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The Sea Empress oil spill: Environmental impact and recovery (1999)

72.000 tonnes of light crude oil were released from the Sea Empress at the entrance to Milford Haven, South Wales over a 7 day period in February 1996, in an area of exceptional environmental value for wildlife, tourism and natural beauty. Natural factors coupled with effective clean-up at sea and on shore, minimised environmental impact.

Categories: Wildlife, Papers , Environmental effects, Spill Response

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TIP 14: Sampling and monitoring of marine oil spills

This paper provides a broad overview of the monitoring and sampling procedures that can be used for qualitative and quantitative monitoring of oil contamination. While qualitative analyses can confirm the source of oil contamination, monitoring programmes are often concerned with the quantitative changes in hydrocarbon levels over time. Guidance on analytical best practice is given and common terminology is explained. However, the techniques and observations required to monitor specific ecological or biological effects and to monitor contaminants in the air are beyond the scope of this paper.

Categories: Technical Information Paper (TIPS) , Environmental effects, Planning & operations

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