Tanker design rules tightened in wake of Exxon Valdez

New design standards to reduce the risk of oil pollution from tanker accidents were agreed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on 6 March. They will require the use of double hulls or other equivalent measures to prevent oil outflow on new oil tankers from the mid-1990s, and retrofitting of protective measures to older tankers.

The rules are a response to the Exxon Valdez oil pollution disaster in Alaska in March 1989 (ENDS Report 171, pp 11-13). The accident prompted the US administration to pass the Oil Pollution Act 1990, which required all new tankers operating in US waters to be fitted with double hulls from June 1990. Existing single-hulled tankers are to be phased out by 2010. The USA then pressed for similar legislation to be adopted by the IMO.


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