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Content archived on 2024-05-29


Final Report Summary - SPREEX (Spill response experience)

While oil spills are occurring every day, disasters like the Prestige fortunately do not happen often. But such disasters appeal to the public and they put public authorities under pressure for immediate action.

SPREEX is a project that was borne in the wake of the Prestige accident. It has been financed through the Sixth Framework Programme of the European Union. SPREEX had three main objectives.

The first was to start a dialogue between politicians, legislators, public bodies such as the coast guard, industries and researchers together on the question how to use today's capabilities and competencies more efficiently.

It explored therefore the state of the art on various issues:
- role of different organisations dealing with oil response;
- oil spill response vessels and equipment;
- use of information technology in oil spill response; and
- costs of oil spill response.

The second objective was to identify shortcomings in our knowledge and capabilities to avoid such accidents to occur again, and if it might happen nevertheless, to be much more efficient in the response.

The third objective was to suggest changes, research and innovation to overcome these shortcomings. The most important conclusions of SPREEX are bundled in this report.

May be not original, yet an important statement of the SPREEX project is that research and innovation on oil spill avoidance and response should not only be addressed in the immediate wake of a major accident, to move in the following years slowly back into oblivion, only to be awakened again when something terrible like Prestige happens again. Oil tankers will sail the world for a long time to come. And no accident is identical to the previous one. Therefore we must remain alert and strive for better.

SPREEX has been structured according to four main technical objectives:
- to create a European oil spill response management for quick response action and to identify convergence and gaps detected by stakeholders for the organisation of oil spill prevention and response;
- optimisation of resources for oil spill response (vessels, equipment and robotics). Evaluation of innovation and ongoing research and experience on vessels, equipment and robotics to respond to oil spills;
- integration and real time updating of oil spill information;
- anticipate optimal use of new technologies to oil spill monitoring and communications and decision support systems for coordination and management of oil response actions;
- environment effects and total costs of response approach (oil transfer at sea, action on shore, places of refuge);
- assessing investments on various oil spill response strategies versus recorded socio-economic impacts.