Dáil Éireann - Volume 618 - 03 May, 2006
Written Answers. - Marine Accidents.
Mr. Perry Mr. Perry
Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Transport the provisions which are currently available if pollution occurs at sea as a result of a shipping accident (details supplied); the facilities which are available to the authorities here to stop pollution here and to clean up spilt cargo; if Ireland complies with all EU legislation in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13647/06]
Mr. Gallagher Mr. Gallagher
Mr. Gallagher:The Irish Coast Guard of the Department has responsibility for preparedness for and response to marine casualty and pollution incidents within the Irish Pollution Responsibility Zone. This responsibility includes initiating, controlling and directing marine casualty and counter-pollution operations. Ireland complies with all EU legislation in this regard.
The incident to which the Deputy refers occurred on 11 and 12 March last in the UK Pollution Responsibility Zone and was managed by the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The Belgian-registered ship, the “Sesam”, was successfully towed to safety in Belfast Lough. The Irish Coast Guard was not involved in managing the incident.
For management of the Irish Pollution Responsibility Zone senior Coast Guard officers are authorised under national legislation to monitor or intervene in actual or threatened marine pollution incidents for the purpose of preventing, mitigating or eliminating danger from pollution  or threat of pollution by oil or any other substance. The authorised officers may issue directions to the owner, master, salvor or person in charge of a ship following upon a maritime casualty to take such actions and do such things as they consider necessary and reasonable.
The Coast Guard operates a range of counter-pollution policies. For sea incidents involving actual pollution, the primary response is by mechanical oil recovery and cargo transfer capabilities. For pollutants that come ashore physical recovery is both mechanical and manual and is undertaken with the aid of public works equipment.
Response to pollution incidences is co-ordinated by one of the three rescue co-ordination centres at Dublin, Malin Head, and Valentia and specialist computer modelling programs are available to support decision-making. The Coast Guard is also responsible for supervising the planning and implementation by local and Harbour authorities of arrangements for the protection of coastal amenity, fishery and wildlife areas, the removal of oil from the coastline and, in the event of a major incident, the direction and co-ordination of the shore response.
National stockpiles of pollution response equipment, which is being added to each year, are kept at Dublin, Killybegs and Castletownbere. However, no country has sufficient State equipment to respond to every pollution emergency. Additional equipment and personnel can be sourced through the EU’s Civil Protection Monitoring and Information Centre. This was the case with Spain when a major pollution incident occurred in 2002 involving an oil tanker “Prestige”. There are also commercial companies providing response equipment on request and guaranteeing to have it on-site within 12 to 24 hours. The Irish Coast Guard has authority to contract equipment from such commercial companies.
I am satisfied that the Coast Guard at present has adequate resources to effectively carry out its responsibilities in management of Ireland’s role in countering and managing marine pollution incidents, including any incident of the type to which the Deputy refers.
Dáil Éireann 618 Written Answers. Marine Accidents.