Discharge banned at sea
October 2013. Wildlife charities have welcomed the International Maritime Organisation's (IMO) swift action to ban ships across the world from discharging all forms of high viscosity polyisobutylene (PIB) into the sea during tank cleaning operations. PIB was the chemical responsible for the deaths of over 4000 seabirds on the south west coast earlier this year.
The tragedy, the largest marine pollution incident of its kind in the region since Torrey Canyon, shocked thousands of people.
Banned from discharge at sea
Dead guillemot covered in the glue like substance,
photo by Darryl Thorpe/Cornwall Wildlife Trust
At a meeting of the IMO's working group on the Evaluation of Safety and Pollution Hazards of Chemicals (ESPH) in London today, it was decided to change the classification of high viscosity PIBs to require full tank prewash and disposal of all residues at port and prohibit any discharge at sea from 2014. This will also apply to new "highly-reactive" forms of PIB, which are currently being transported un-assessed.
The recommendation to do this had been made by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) on behalf of the UK Government, following vigorous campaigning by wildlife charities and the public.
Alec Taylor, Marine Policy Officer for the RSPB said; "We are delighted with the action taken by the IMO. The global trade in PIB products is increasing and with it the risks to our precious marine environment. Today's global ban on the deliberate discharge of high viscosity PIBs into our seas is a real step forward and one that we hope will end this particular pollution threat to seabirds and other marine life."