The ongoing need to deal with oil in stranded ships, especially those in remote areas, is the impetus behind a proposed new standard being developed by ASTM International Committee F20 on Hazardous Substances and Oil Spill Response. One possible response to such a crisis, burning the oil on the ship before it can damage the environment, is the subject of the proposed standard, F 2533, Guide for In-Situ Burning of Oil in Ships or Other Vessels. F 2533 is under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee F20.15 on In-Situ Burning.
According to Mervin Fingas, chief, emergencies science and technology division, Environmental Technology Centre of Environment Canada, the proposed standard will be important for the removal of environmentally damaging oil from permanently stranded vessels. "Many regional incident response crews, such as coast guards, navies and spill response organizations are faced with this problem and F 2533 will give them one way of dealing with it," says Fingas.
A shipwreck off the coast of Oregon in 1999 could have been more expeditiously handled if a standard such as F 2533 had existed at the time, according to Fingas. When the New Carissa, a tanker holding 400,000 gallons of oil, ran aground, it was decided to burn the fuel on the ship. After the ship broke apart, one section was towed out to sea and sunk, while the other was dismantled where it ran aground. Fingas says that the proposed standard is designed to help officials decide whether burning oil on a stranded ship is the most viable cleanup option.
The calculation data included in the proposed standard has already been shown to have practical value. In late 2005 the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation used data in the proposed standard when determining whether to burn a tanker stranded off Singapore. Based on the data, it was determined that burning would take too long to rid the tanker of its oil, so other alternatives were used in that case.
For further technical information, contact Mervin Fingas, Environmental Technology Centre of Environment Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (phone: 613/998-9622; firstname.lastname@example.org). Committee F20 will meet April 4-5, in Clearwater, Fla. For membership or meeting details, contact Jeffrey Adkins, ASTM International (phone: 610/832-9738; email@example.com).