Assessing and addressing risks from potentially polluting shipwrecks key developments since wow i
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Assessing and Addressing Risks from Potentially-Polluting Shipwrecks: Key Developments since WOW I. Dagmar Schmidt Etkin, PhD Environmental Research Consulting. Wrecks of the World (WOW) II: Evaluating and Addressing Potential Underwater Threats

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Assessing and Addressing Risks from Potentially-Polluting Shipwrecks:Key Developments since WOW I

Dagmar Schmidt Etkin, PhD

Environmental Research Consulting

Wrecks of the World (WOW) II:

Evaluating and Addressing Potential Underwater Threats

Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies (MITAGS) Linthicum, Maryland

6 – 7 June 2011

Potentially Polluting Wrecks = International Issue

World of Wrecks - Hidden Risks of the Deep

Monde des épaves - risques cachés du profound

Welt der Wracke - versteckte Risiken vom Tiefen

Κόσμος των συντριμμιών - κρυμμένοι κίνδυνοι βαθιού


Wereld van Wrakken - Verborgen Risico's van Diep

Mondo dei naufragi - rischi nascosti del profondo


난파 - 깊은 것의 숨겨지은 위험의 세계

Mundo das destruições - riscos escondidos do profundo

Мир развалин - спрятанных рисков глубокого

Mundo de las ruinas - riesgos ocultados del profundo

העולם של - מוסתר ינוכיס העמוקה של

दुनिया की है - दीप के छुपे हुए जोखिम

Thế giới của Wrecks - Rủi ro trong các sâu

Wraki - Ukryte Zagrożenia z

โลกของ- ซ่อนความเสี่ยงของลึก

Mundo ng - Nakatagong panganib ng

 Romuajoneuvoista - Piilotettu riskejä

Свет олупине - Скривени ризици од Дееп

Världen av vrak - Dolda Risk

Dünya virane - ve Gizli Riskler

Worldwide, over 8,500 wrecks of large vessels* containing total of 1.5 to 15 million tonnesof oil and hazardous materials (2005 IOSC Study)

ERC Wreck Databases

*tank vessels or other ships of least 400 GRT

Geographic Distribution of Wrecks

Note: Exxon Valdez = 37,400 tonnes

About 1,360 in US Waters

ERC Wreck Databases

Types of Vessels by Age

ERC Wreck Databases

Types of Vessels by Age

75% of the wrecks are World War II era – warships or sunk by warships

ERC Wreck Databases

Varying Conditions of Wrecks

  • Leaking chronically (e.g., USS Arizona – 2 gallons per day)

  • Leaking episodically (e.g., SS Jacob Luckenbach “mystery” spills)

  • Potential to release oil in larger amounts after disturbance

  • Reported relatively intact

  • Condition unknown

USS Mississinewa

Environmental and Socioeconomic Resources at Risk

2005 International Oil Spill Conference

  • Too many wrecks = too overwhelming

  • Too many legal issues

  • Too many financial issues

  • No guidance on how to deal with wrecks

  • No systematic approach to assessment

Wrecks of the World ConferenceSeptember 2009

  • Discussions of pro-active strategies

  • Introductions of risk assessment strategies

Growing Acceptance for Pro-Active Strategy Towards Shipwrecks

• Reactive Strategy - Deal with continuous leaking or sudden release oiling events and damages as they occur – greater costs for spill response and damages, risk remains


• Pro-active Strategy - Take proactive approach to remove oil from wrecks with greatest risk – highest potential for leakage or spillage and highest damages – lower costs, risk removed

Proactive removal of oil and hazardous materials from risky wrecks will:

  • Avert significant damages to natural and socioeconomic resources

  • Reduce costs for response and monitoring of spills and leakage

Challenges with Pro-Active Strategy

  • Large number of wrecks

  • Considerable expense for remediation

  • Limited funding available for remediation

  • Financial/legal responsibility often at issue

  • Risk to personnel in removal operations

  • Potential for leakage during removal operations

  • Unnecessary for many wrecks (unlikely to leak or little oil left on board)

Risk Assessment Approach

Assess shipwrecks with regard to risk

Risk = Probability x Consequences

Risk = Probabilityx Consequences

Probability of Leakage

Risk = Probability x Consequences

Consequences (Impact from Leakage)

Risk = Probability x Consequences

Probability of Leakage

Consequences (Impacts from Leakage)

Risk Assessment Projects

  • Scandinavian (Swedish Maritime Administration et al.)

  • France and Italy DEEPP project (CEDRE)

  • Canada (Transport Canada)

  • South Pacific (UNEP PREP et al.)

  • UK (Maritime and Coastguard Agency)

  • Norway (Kystverket)

  • US “Wreck Oil Removal Project” (NOAA/USCG)

Scandinavian Risk Assessment

  • Beginning development of database of wrecks

  • Analysis of legal situation of wrecks

  • Case study: SS Skytteren (sank 1942)

DEEP Project (France & Italy)

  • Unique international cooperation

  • Process:

    • Library research

    • Sea bottom exploration

    • ROV investigation

    • Wreck identification (to Database)

    • Risk Analysis

    • Decision

Transport Canada

  • 1,000s of wrecks charted on Canada east coast

  • Aerial surveillance (mystery spills)

  • Work with CCG, industry, provinces, fishing community to establish contingency plans

  • Case Study: Dredge Shovelmaster – decision to leave in place, monitor

South Pacific

  • Extensive mapping and identification of wrecks (particularly WWII-related)

  • Development of comprehensive database

UK Potentially Polluting WreckRisk Assessment

Pollution risk (oil, chemical)

Safety risk (unexploded ordnance)

US “Wreck Oil Removal Project”

Other Developments

  • Technological developments and breakthroughs

  • Field experience with removal projects

  • Legal developments

  • Financial considerations

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