Britain will introduce new port
safety rules resulting from lessons learned from the Sea Empress tanker oil spill in 1996. The UK Government will introduce a Port Marine Safety Code early next year, Shipping Minister Keith Hill said at a harbor masters' seminar.
"Recent maritime history, including the grounding of the Sea Empress in 1996, has demonstrated the need to improve port safety
to save lives and safeguard the environment," Hill said. The code would bring in a new safety management
regime, establish a yardstick for harbor authority responsibilities for port safety and promote good practice, he said. The Sea Empress spilled over 70,000 tons of oil when it grounded trying to enter the Welsh port of Milford Haven.
Concerns about accountability were raised by the investigation into the grounding and a subsequent review of piloting standards. Hill said the new code would establish national standards for all aspects of marine safety. It would ensure that authorities entrusted with the power to run ports were openly accountable for their actions, he said.
The draft code, which has had industry support, is out for final consultation until the end of the year and should be published in February 2000. Harbor authorities would have until the end of 2001 to develop the safety management systems required, Hill added. -(Reuters)