Feb 1, 2011

National plan to combat pollution of the sea to be reviewed

National plan to combat pollution of the sea to be reviewed

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure & Transport

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

February 1 2011

The Gillard Labor Government is to undertake a thorough review of Australia’s level of preparedness in the event of a serious maritime pollution incident.

If there’s an oil spill or a ship grounding, we want to be sure that our response is the best possible.

Not only are the waters and reefs around our coastline international tourism drawcards, they are also extremely precious environmentally.

While we continuously monitor our response plan, it’s a decade since the last major review. We want to be sure there are no gaps in our processes.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has awarded the review contract to Parsons Brinckerhoff and Thompson Clarke Shipping.

The review will investigate:

  • How well we meet our obligations under the International Maritime Organization Convention on Oil Pollution, Preparedness, Response & Co-operation
  • Whether current responses meet Government and industry expectations
  • The suitability and adequacy of the existing accountabilities, roles and resources
  • Our response capability to all types of marine spills and future preparedness.

A reference group will assist the review team and include representatives from all States and the NT, the shipping, oil and ports industries, Maritime New Zealand and AMSA.

The current national response plan has been activated on a number of occasions in recent years including in 2009 when oil and gas leaked for 74 days from the Montara Wellhead Platform and the Pacific Adventurer spilt around 270 tonnes of bunker oil t off the Queensland coast.

The Montara incident was the subject of the Borthwick Commission of Inquiry.

The review of the National Plan will take into account recommendations from the Borthwick Inquiry and will report by the end of 2011.

The review will interview all relevant stakeholders. Individual submissions can be sent to [email protected] before the end of February 2011.