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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To remove or not to remove? Dealing with pollution risks from ship wrecks (2017)

Based on ITOPF’s extensive experience providing advice on pollution mitigation and environmental risks posed by wrecks, this paper examines recent issues in the treatment of wrecks. The authors highlight some key concerns regarding the equitable treatment of wrecks and argue that a more rigorous, technically-based decision making process be adopted and promoted to ensure clarity and consistency for all parties.

Categories: Papers , Planning & operations

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Applying international standards in response to oil spills in remote areas (2014)

This paper discusses the meaning of “international standards” for oil spill response in the context of remote operations. Practical examples are drawn from remote spills world-wide, including incidents in Tristan da Cunha, Madagascar, and Papua New Guinea.

Categories: Papers , Africa, Americas, Oceania, South Atlantic Ocean, Planning & operations

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What makes a good response? (2014)

What defines a successful response? Is it dependent upon satisfying potential critics? Does it depend on money saved or spent? Is it defined by avoiding or mitigating pollution damage? Or is it all of these things?

Categories: Papers , Planning & operations

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International responsibilities: Are we our brothers' Keeper? Oil spill preparedness and response: The role of industry (1997)

Government and the shipping and oil industries have invested heavily in creating and maintaining expensive oil spill response systems against a background of decreasing numbers of intermediate and major oil spills worldwide.

Categories: Papers , Planning & operations

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To carry or not to carry? Onboard spill response equipment - Is it practicable? (1998)

The question as to whether oil tankers should carry oil spill response equipment onboard has been the subject of debate for many years. The idea received considerable attention in the previous decade during the preparation of regulations by the United States Coast Guard as a result of the US Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA'90).

Categories: Papers , Response Techniques, Planning & operations

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Oil spills from floating production & storage craft: Contingency & response considerations (2006)

As exploitation of undersea oil moves further offshore floating production and storage systems offer a cost-effective alternative to conventional fixed platforms and seabed pipelines. Floating systems come in a variety of designs but due to their versatility, FPSOs (Floating Production, Storage and Offloading units) are a particularly popular choice.

Categories: Papers , Response Techniques, Planning & operations

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Responding to spills in remote locations (2012)

Over the years, ITOPF has regularly attended incidents in relatively remote locations with limited response capacities and/or limited contingency planning arrangements in place.

Categories: Papers , Response Techniques, Planning & operations, Spill Response

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TIP 16: Contingency planning for marine oil spills

This paper outlines the typical format and content of contingency plans for response to ship-source spills and highlights the key steps required for an effective plan.

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

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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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TIP 10: Leadership, command & management of oil spills

This paper considers many of the situations encountered in a response to ship-source pollution and explains how effective leadership, command and management can maximise the success of response operations. Many of the subjects touched on are discussed in greater detail in other ITOPF papers in this series, as listed on the back cover, but in particular, the paper on Contingency Planning for Marine Oil Spills.

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

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