Leading experts in dealing with maritime incidents involving hazardous and noxious substances, such as chemicals, will gather to exchange information and ideas at IMO's Fourth R&D Forum on Hazardous and Noxious Substances (HNS) in the Marine Environment, which is to be held from 12 to 14 May 2009, in conjunction with Interspill 2009, in Marseille, France.
The growth in marine transportation of chemicals, together with State and industry obligations arising from the entry into force, in 2007, of the Protocol on Preparedness, Response and Co-operation to Pollution Incidents by Hazardous and Noxious Substances, 2000 (OPRC-HNS Protocol), have focused professional and public attention on the potential dangers of HNS at sea.
The R&D Forum will take an in-depth scientific, technical and legal look at the experience to date in planning for, and responding to, HNS incidents and the challenges that remain, and will define areas for new developments. The integration of the R&D Forum with the Interspill conference underpins the conference theme of "Working Together" for the protection of the marine environment.
The Forum provides a platform for direct communication amongst senior researchers and Research and Development managers from recognized institutions around the world to promote and encourage co-operative activities including joint research, as well as to stimulate new ideas and studies related to preparedness and response to maritime incidents involving HNS. It will focus on impact assessment, the operational dimension of pollution-combating techniques and equipment, and health and safety issues. Compliance with, and enforcement of, international legislation related to HNS will be also analyzed.
It is anticipated that the Forum will bring together some 100 delegates from IMO Member States, other United Nations agencies, inter-Governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations and research institutions, in addition to providing an opportunity for participants to attend other events related to oil pollution response, organized as part of Interspill 2009.
The first and second International R&D Fora on oil spill response issues were held in McLean (USA, 1992) and London (1995). The Third R&D Forum on High Density Oil Spill Response was held in Brest, France, in 2002.
The OPRC-HNS Protocol was adopted by IMO in 2000 and entered into force in 2007. It follows the principles of the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation (OPRC), which was adopted in 1990 and entered into force in 1995.
Article 8 of the OPRC Convention and Article 6 of the OPRC-HNS Protocol call on Governments and IMO to play an active role in the promotion of R&D relating to the enhancement of state-of-the-art pollution preparedness and response, through the exchange of information, and to promote the holding, on a regular basis, of international symposia on relevant subjects, including technological advances in techniques and equipment for responding to pollution incidents.