This paper describes means to minimize the risk of accidental discharges of harmful cargoes at conventional pier and sea island facilities. The scope of the investigation includes the berthing, mooring and cargo transfer phases of the terminal operations. Areas requiring improvement were established after reviewing the major causes of spills, current governmental regulations, and operating practices at several locations. The specific measures proposed can be classified in two categories: 1) Instrumentation systems and 2) Procedures to improve personnel performance.

Many of the concepts discussed in the paper can be implemented immediately at most facilities; others will depend upon the terminals past experience and a risk assessment of present operations. Incorporation of the type systems/procedures given in this paper into the design and operation of a marine terminal, should significantly improve the overall safety and efficiency of the terminal.


Although tanker/barge terminal related incidents result in only two percent of the total annual oil pollution of the oceans considerable incentives exist to improve present marine terminal designs and operations. The predicted increases in tanker/terminal activity in many areas along with the fact that oil ports are frequently found in sensitive regions would indicate greater public concern, and increased governmental regulations can be expected. Monetary savings can also be realized from these improvements through reductions in the number and size of spills plus improved performance and tanker turnaround.

The primary objective of this paper is the prevention of incidents. Ample consideration is also given to reducing the effect of incidents which have occurred. Existing technology was evaluated and-new technology developed where necessary in order to meet the objectives. This paper will serve as a useful reference to owners and operators of marine terminals through the presentation of concepts/systems which can be relatively easily implemented at any facility to minimize the chance of an incident.


A review was made of the major causes of pollution at marine terminals, current governmental regulations and present operating practices. As a result of this review, areas for improvement in terminal design/operations were established.

Based on pollution data received from Exxon affiliates, accidental discharges of oil at marine terminals were found to be the result of two factors:

  1. human error, and

  2. equipment malfunction or failure.

The data indicates the majority of the pollution incidents are related to human error. Many of the incidents classified as "equipment failure" could have, in fact, originated from personnel error.

The following represents an approximate breakout between operator error and equipment failures for the aforementioned Exxon data:

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Concern Over Terminal Operations

Although as mentioned, the contribution to the total oil pollution of the seas by terminal facilities is minor, significant public and government attention is focused on marine terminal operations. A limited amount of legislation to control or minimize pollution during terminal operations is already in effect in various parts of the world.

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