A fundamental problem exists with waste disposal in marine-based oil spill clean up, as up to ten times more waste can be generated than the actual oil spilled. Lessons learnt are rarely recognised until the clean up operation has finished and oiled waste has accumulated. In 1999 the oil tanker Erika broke in two and sank off the coast of Brittany, France. Spilling 20,000 tonnes of Heavy Fuel Oil but creating 250,000 tonnes of oiled waste.

The Author, during the Prestige spill has observed first hand how the handling and disposal of oily waste can have major implications for oil clean up operations. It can hinder the entire operation by causing bottlenecks and delays in further recovery of oil, unless suitable arrangements can be made. The promotion of a holistic approach to waste management is fundamental to effective oil recovery operations and should be incorporated into oil spill contingency plans.

The paper will highlight the importance of developing a proactive waste management strategy, emphasising good practice and the key issues involved. The paper is supported by existing reports, the author's practical experience and a published document, co-authored, on current waste disposal options for IPIECA's technical document series.

This content is only available as a PDF.

Author notes

1 DISCLAIMER: The opinions and views expressed in this paper are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of any other party.