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The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF) has reported that the frequency of oil spills has continued to decrease over the past five decades – with 2019 showing the lowest number of spills in 50 years.

In a statement issued on Friday (10 January) to announce the publication of the 2019 statistics, ITOPF said: ‘The average number of spills of seven tonnes or more in the 1970s was about 79 per year and has now decreased by over 90% to a low of six [in the 2010s].

‘Similarly, there has been a significant reduction in the quantity of oil spilled through the decades. The total amount spilled per decade has reduced by about 95% since the 1970s.’

In 2019, ITOPF added, one large spill (defined as more than 700 tonnes) and two medium spills (of between seven and 700 tonnes) were reported. The large spill occurred in North America and both medium spills occurred in South Asia. The estimated total amount of oil lost to the environment through tanker incidents in 2019 was approximately 1,000 tonnes.

ITOPF said that the drop in spill incidents ‘reflected the hard work by governments and industry in improving safety and standards of operations’.

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