UK: National Contingency Plan For Marine Pollution: Consultation Document

The Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) is consulting on a draft National Contingency Plan for Marine Pollution from Shipping and Offshore Installations (NCP). The draft NCP updates the current version published in 2006. The main changes are recognised responsibilities for offshore oil and gas operators, a more streamlined, transparent approach to lines of communication and the transfer of authority from DTI (dissolved in 2007) to DECC. The MCA invite comments from interested parties on the content, length and presentation of the draft by 12 November 2012.

Offshore Oil and Gas Response

The inclusion of offshore oil and gas operators' responsibilities in the NCP is a response to a European Parliament and Council proposal for a Regulation or Directive requiring operators to have an Oil Pollution Emergency Plan (OPEP). The requirement for the OPEP is already in place in respect of offshore activities in the UK. However, the consultation document now acknowledges these requirements. The consultation document outlines the required contents of an OPEP:

  • "Worst case scenario" – the quantity of hydrocarbons that could potentially be released based on:
    • Well and reservoir information;
    • Well flow characteristics;
    • Potential daily release rate; and
    • The total quantity of hydrocarbons that could be released during the maximum time it could take to stop the release.
  • A credible containment and recovery strategy. Operators must maintain and have sufficient equipment to allow an effective response in the worst case scenario;
  • Where a capping device is suggested as a control option, operators must have suitable arrangements in place to implement such a response. Operators must plan for the time taken to transport the equipment to site, assemble, test and deploy the cap to stop the flow from the well.

The existing three tiered approach used for oil pollution from shipping casualties is not deemed appropriate for offshore installations. Still, three levels of oil spill, each requiring a different level of response are identified:

  • Minor spill – a localised release, where the operator must monitor and evaluate the spill. They may also need to obtain samples and conduct a test spray with an approved dispersant;
  • Larger spills – are outside the capability of operators. Additional resources should be provided by an accredited oil spill response contractor. The contractor and the operator liaise to take action, which can include aerial surveillance, vessel and aerial chemical dispersant spraying, mechanical recovery equipment, a capping device and personnel.
  • A spill of major significance – a request for national MCA and/or international support is made to compensate for lack of equipment and resources. In this scenario, the NCP will be activated.

As soon as an operator suspects that an incident could cause significant pollution they must activate their Emergency Response Centre (as detailed within the OPEP). A DECC Environmental Inspector will attend the ERC to act as a point of contact between the operators, DECC and the Secretary of State's Representative (SOSREP). Where the operator is dealing adequately with a pollution incident the SOSREP will defer to the operator. The SOSREP can establish an Operations Control Unit, so that the operator can present their strategy. The SOSREP can give directions if they disagree with the operator's proposed strategy.

Lines of communication and incident management

The draft NCP clarifies the roles of various bodies. In general, the consultation document clarifies reporting lines making incident management both more transparent and efficient.

Of particular note is the expanded role for the SOSREP. The SOSREP is now named as taking the lead in the response in general and in reporting to UK Government Ministers. The SOSREP acts as the main point of contact and is expected to remain up to date on developments of the pollution incident. Response centres update the SOSREP via Situation Reports (SITREPs). The SOSREP ultimately consolidates all of the SITREPs into his own SITREP. Additionally, the SOSREP now has greater powers of intervention in salvage and offshore operations. In the current NCP, the MCA Coastguard Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC – now Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) has the responsibility to decide whether the salvor has the capability to carry out the necessary salvage operations. Where the incident is offshore, the SOSREP may exercise power of intervention if it is in the public interest.

The establishment of a Marine Response Centre as part of a national response is at the most appropriate location under the draft NCP, rather than at the nearest RCC. This is a more pragmatic approach than the current NCP, as it allows the MRC to be established where is will be most useful. The draft NCP now includes a clear definition of who does what in the MRC, giving clear guidance as to the best point of contact.

Responsibility for approving the use of oil spill treatment products shall pass to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO). DECC presently approves the use of dispersant by offshore operators based on the advice of Marine Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

Where a shoreline pollution incident affects a wide area and multiple agencies a Strategic Coordinating Group (SCG) will be established to take overall responsibility for coordinating the response. This feeds into the overall theme in the draft NCP of creating clearer communication lines and a more efficient response. In the current NCP, Local Authorities are the focus of responses to pollution incidents. Below the SCG is the Tactical Coordinating Group (TCG), which ensures that action are coordinated, coherent and integrated, enabling the Shoreline Response Centre (SRC) to concentrate on clean-up activities.

Transfer of authority from DTI to DECC

The Department of Trade and Industry was dissolved in 2007 and subsumed into BIS. For the purposes of the NCP, DECC have been considered the most appropriate body to takeover the DTI's responsibilities. DECC has a committed Oil and Gas Environment and Decommissioning Unit, which is responsible for situations relating to oil pollution. DECC are responsible for approving Offshore Operators' OPEPs after consulting with the MCA and appropriate environmental agencies. For the most part this is a direct transposition and of little significance for consultees.

Responding to the consultation

Interested parties should direct their comments to the MCA. The MCA is particularly interested in whether the draft NCP is fit for purpose, any additional guidance and whether the new NCP addresses specific concerns. More broadly, the MCA are seeking comments on the length of the document and how it is presented. Any comments must be received by the MCA by noon on 12 November 2012. Further details are available here.

This article was written for Law-Now, CMS Cameron McKenna's free online information service. To register for Law-Now, please go to www.law-now.com/law-now/mondaq

Law-Now information is for general purposes and guidance only. The information and opinions expressed in all Law-Now articles are not necessarily comprehensive and do not purport to give professional or legal advice. All Law-Now information relates to circumstances prevailing at the date of its original publication and may not have been updated to reflect subsequent developments.

The original publication date for this article was 12/10/2012.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.