Forth ship-to-ship oil transfer firm admits 35,000-gallon spill
THE company wanting to carry out controversial ship-to-ship oil transfers in the Firth of Forth yesterday admitted one of its ships was involved in an accident in which 35,000 gallons of fuel were spilled into the Gulf of Mexico.
After being challenged by the Scottish Green Party, SPT Marine Services said there had been a "navigational incident" between two vessels manoeuvring into position for a transfer in 1995, and 850 barrels of oil were spilled into the sea. Beaches on the southern coast of the United States were polluted as a result.
The Green Party, which fears a spill in the Forth could harm sealife such as killer whales and dolphins, accused Sunderland-based SPT of misleading the Scottish Parliament by saying it had an "excellent" safety record and had spilled only four barrels of oil in ten years carrying out the procedure.
A spokesman for SPT said: "Ship-to-ship (STS) transfer has an excellent safety record.
"There was an incident in 1995 which we sincerely regret resulted in a spill of 850 barrels in the US Gulf. The spill was not directly attributable to STS, but was a navigational incident between two vessels under way and preparing for an STS operation.
"For the proposals on the Forth, all vessels will be double hull vessels and the operations will be conducted at anchor and not under way."
It added that a review after the accident had resulted in new procedures and "further stringent safety precautions".
Mark Ruskell, the Green Party's environment spokesman, said: "I'm shocked and disappointed that this company appears to have tried to hoodwink parliament. It was misleading.
"It's effectively withholding information."
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