Environmental Update – Oil spill contract trade organisations meet to discuss and agree contaminated land and groundwater clean up criteria

International Spill Accreditation Scheme (ISAS)

The UK Spill Association and ISAA (International Spill Accreditation Association) have recently formed a partnership – International Spill Accreditation Scheme (ISAS) to bring together over 60 accredited oil spill responders in the UK, Ireland and internationally.

On Tuesday 15 January 2019, ISAS met in Hillsborough, County Down, Northern Ireland to discuss and agree a standard for contaminated land and groundwater remediation that would be adopted by the members of the new amalgamated body. QuestGates’ Environmental Consultant, Ryan Wilkinson was in attendance to represent the interests of insurers.

In recent years there has developed in the environmental claims industry, opposing views as to the level of clean up required in respect of contaminated land and impact to buildings and controlled waters following a spillage/release of pollutants and contaminants.

Differences in approach has led to uncertainty, higher costs/claim spend and in extreme cases litigation, where clean up measures have been implemented to achieve base line/pristine site conditions rather than adopting the more generally accepted risk based model which in the UK is set out in “The Model Procedures for the Management of Land Contamination” document, referred to as CLR 11. This document outlines the technical framework for the adoption of a risk based approach to remediation.

At the meeting it was debated and agreed that going forward, ISAS members would seek to adopt the risk based model, and sign up to a code of practice produced by ISAS, albeit the code of practice will not be prescriptive insofar as setting out specific assessment criteria to be adhered to, but will advocate the use of the current best practice and guidance. It is expected that further updates will be provided in the near future following discussion by an ISAS technical steering group.

What this should mean for stakeholders (including property owners and insurers) is that there will be more clarity around the expected levels/standards of clean up required following oil spill incidents which will assist in achieving validation procedures acceptable to regulators and importantly to insurers, controlling indemnity spend and setting realistic/accurate reserves.

It is envisaged that any agreed draft code of practice will be discussed with the regulators before implementation. A further update will follow in due course.