Dáil Éireann - Volume 462 - 06 March, 1996
Written Answers. - Oil Spillage Contingency Plans.
Kathleen Lynch Kathleen Lynch
35. Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for the Marine the contingency plans, if any, that are in place to provide for an oil spillage in Irish water in view of the recent catastrophe involving the Sea Empress; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5139/96]
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Barrett) Minister for the Marine (Mr. Barrett)
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Barrett): At the outset I should say that we have followed very carefully all aspects of the Sea Empress incident. We have been kept fully informed on a daily basis of developments. In addition, a senior officer of the Marine Emergency Services Division of the Department of the Marine was part of the special European Union task force which was assembled to assist and observe the response of the UK authoritiers.
It is clear that there are lessons to be learned by everyone from this incident and the Marine emergency services will be conducting a full review of the implications for emergency management in this country. In this regard, the report of the official inquiry will be of particular interest.
We have, however, already in place, highly developed contingency plans to respond to a major oil tanker incident. These plans define precise roles for local authorities, harbour authorities, central Government Departments, as well as procedures for obtaining support from other EU member states and specialised international commercial pollution equipment stockpiles.
A fundamental aspect of the management of a major marine emergency is to have unambiguous lines of responsibility, command and control. In this country, the Marine Emergency Services Division of the Department of the Marine would have full management control. It would have the authority to  task all available resources within the State and call for whatever support which might be required from international sources.
The management of a major marine emergency such as the Sea Empress incident could involve a wide range of specific interventions including, air/sea rescue, salvage, including securing and towing of a vessel, cargo transfer and pollution response.
As I said earlier, we will be conducting a full review of the implications of the Sea Empress incident. In particular, this review will focus on our intervention capability in a casualty situation, with specific reference to the availability of suitable towage vessels.
Dáil Éireann 462 Written Answers. Oil Spillage Contingency Plans.