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    UK DTI introduces regulations to implement Donaldson report

    Legislation and Procedures // July 19, 2002
    The Offshore Installations (Emergency Pollution Control) Regulations 2002 came into force in the UK on the 18th July 2002.

    The Regulations will give the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, who is responsible for the regulatory control of offshore installations, the power to intervene in a pollution, or potentialpollution incident. These powers will be delegated to the Secretary of State's Representative, known as the SOSREP for short. In addition to intervention powers, there is the provision for the payment of compensation in certain circumstances.

    Whilst it is expected that intervention will be rare, the Government recognized the need for powers to intervene where the public and national interest was at stake. These Regulations mirror thosealready in place for shipping incidents, and to ensure that there is no conflict, the SOSREP will be the same person who carries out similar duties for the Department for Transport.

    In presenting these Regulations to the House of Lords, Transport Minister, Lord McIntosh of Haringey said: "I do not believe that these regulations will be a burden on the offshore industry but rather, in the event they are ever activated, will facilitate the setting up of a partnership for dealing with a major oil spill, which will reduce or prevent pollution."

    The Offshore Installations (Emergency Pollution Control) Regulations 2002 are made under the provisions of section 3 of the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999.

    The purpose of the Regulations is to implement the recommendations made in Lord Donaldson's Report: 'Command and Control: Report of Lord Donaldson's Review of Salvage and Intervention and their Command and Control', as they apply to the UK offshore oil and gas industry. As aparty to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic, the UK has an obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment. The Regulations applyto all offshoreinstallations and covers all offshore installations and pipelines in UK territorial waters or any area designated under the Continental Shelf Act 1964.

    The Regulations will give the British Government powers to intervene in an incident involving an offshore installation where there is, or may be a risk of, significant pollution, or where an operator is failing or has failed to implement effective control and preventative operations. The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry will appoint a representative known as the SOSREP to exercise these powers on her behalf and he (SOSREP) will be able to give directions, and if necessary take action, in respect of offshore installations. There are also provisions for the recovery of compensation from the Secretary of State where expenses are incurred, or damage suffered, as a direct consequence of a direction given by the SOSREP and where the actions taken were not reasonably necessary or were disproportionate to the benefit.

    The Regulations will also require operators to amend their Oil Spill Contingency Plans to take into account the role of the SOSREP. Operators will have to provide facilities for the SOSREP and his team in the event of an incident.

    A full consultation process with Industry and OGDs was undertaken during 2001 and the first quarter of 2002. In addition DTI held a workshop and a successful National Exercise involving industry, OGDs and other relevant organisations.

    In October 1997, Lord Donaldson of Lymington was asked to review the Government's involvement in salvage and intervention in pollution incidents following the grounding and subsequent salvage of the Sea Empress at Milford Haven in 1996. His report "Command and Control: Report of Lord Donaldson's Review of Salvage and Intervention and their Command and Control" was presented to Parliament in March 1999 and made 26 recommendations. Five related to the offshore industry, and were accepted by Government.

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