Salvors worldwide prevented more than 2.5M tonnes of potential pollutants from entering the marine environment in 2020
The salvage industry worked together to provide 191 services to vessels carrying 2,538,210 tonnes of potentially polluting cargo and fuel. This includes emergency towage, refloating grounded ships and tackling onboard fires and collapsed cargo.
Information from the International Salvage Union (ISU) demonstrates the critical role of professional salvors in protecting the marine environment.
“ISU members have been preventing pollution for decades and we are proud of our great contribution to environmental protection,” said ISU president and Smit Salvage managing director Richard Janssen.
The total volume of potential pollutants saved through ISU members’ actions was higher than the 2.3M tonnes reported in 2019, driven by a near doubling of chemical cargoes salvaged (133,150 tonnes) in 2020 and a considerable rise in containers prevented from entering the marine environment.
ISU members handled ships carrying 33,523 TEU in 2020, up from 25,799 TEU in 2019. This was partially offset by small falls in crude oil cargo salvaged, 360,733 tonnes in 2020 compared with around 400,000 tonnes in 2019; and offset by a steep fall in refined oil products prevented from entering the marine environment, 112,096 tonnes in 2020 – less than half of the 2019 figure of 278,046 tonnes.
Bulk cargoes decreased slightly to 744,246 tonnes in 2020 and bunkers saved, at 111,886 tonnes, were similar to 2019.
“The numbers, when compared with other years, show the variability of our industry,” said Mr Janssen.
“We are always transparent with the survey – we know that not all of these potential pollutants were at risk of going into the sea,” he continued. “Some cases will have had limited danger but many others will have carried a real risk of substantial environmental damage.”
The salvage industry’s capacity for maintaining maritime traffic through congested shipping waterways has been highlighted this week by efforts to dislodge a grounded container ship in the Suez Canal in Egypt.
Ongoing efforts to free the ultra-large container ship Ever Given that has blocked traffic through this global shipping shortcut for three days have yet to shift the vessel.
Smit Salvage and Japan Nippon Salvage are working to remove the ship from both east and west banks of the canal.
“Continued global provision of professional salvage services – those offered by members of the ISU – is essential,” said Mr Janssen.
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