Pollution report

Once the offence has been detected, the information must be transferred to the relevant authorities.

UOnce an illicit discharge offence has been detected at sea, the elements must be sent to the relevant services on land and these services must be convinced that there is sufficient evidence to trigger a response: rerouting a ship towards a local port for inspection, holding it there until a bank guarantee is supplied, engaging legal proceedings and obtaining a conviction are acts which may result in serious consequences. To take such actions, it is essential to have solid evidence.

Once the pollution has been detected, the information must be communicated rapidly so that the relevant agents can respond as quickly as possible, in perfect coordination. The observer who detected the pollution sends a Polrep message to the appropriate authority (nearest MRCC, Coastguard, MCA… see Bonn Agreement website).

Polreps contain the classification, date, position and extent of the pollution, the identity of the observer, the wind speed and direction, the sea state, the characterisation of the pollution and the source of the pollution when known.

Source: UK Ministry of Defence Acquisition Management System.

INITIAL POLREP-SIGNAL MESSAGE FORMAT

Addressee for action: relevant MRCC.

Addressee for information: relevant authorities

Title/subject: POLREP

A – Classification of report
Doubtful – probable – confirmed

B – Date and time pollution observed/ reported

C – Position and extent of pollution
If possible, state range and bearing of some prominent land mark or Decca position, and estimated amount of pollution (i.e. size of polluted area, number of tons spilled, or number of containers, drums lost). Where appropriate, give position of observer relative to pollution.

D – Tide, wind speed and direction

E – Meteorological conditions and sea state

F – Characteristics of pollution
Give type of pollution, e.g. oil (crude or otherwise), packaged or bulk chemicals, sewage. For chemicals give proper name or United Nations number if known. For all, give also appearance, e.g. liquid, floating solid, liquid oil, semi-liquid sludge, tarry lumps, weathered oil, discolouration of sea, visible vapour. Any markings on drums, containers etc. should be given.

G – Source and cause of pollution
E.g. from vessel or other undertaking. If from vessel, say whether as a result of a deliberate discharge or a casualty. If the latter, give brief description. Where possible, give name, type, size, nationality and port of registry of polluting vessel. If vessel is proceeding on its way, give course, speed and destination.

H – Details of vessels in the area
To be given if the polluter cannot be identified, and the spill is considered to be of recent origin.

I – Whether photographs have been taken, and/or samples for analysis

J – Remedial action taken or intended, to deal with the spillage

K – Forecast of likely effect of pollution
(eg arrival on beach) with estimated timing.

L – Names of other States and organisations informed.

M – Any other relevant information
Eg names of other witnesses, reference to other instances of pollution pointing to source.

Various immediate actions can then be taken: inform the port State of the next port of call so that the ship may be inspected, organise an onboard inspection visit at sea, reroute the ship towards the nearest port for inspection. All such actions imply that solid evidence is available.

Last update: 17/04/2012