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MITSUBISHI/SKAARUP: TANKER DESIGN MANDATED BY U.S. MAY INCREASE POLLUTION FROM MAJOR OIL SPILLS

 WASHINGTON, May 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Tanker design provisions mandated by the United States may increase the potential for environmental damage from major oil spills, a study released today contended.
 The study, "Tanker Design for Pollution Prevention," declared that a mid-deck tanker would be at least as effective and in some circumstances "definitely more effective, in preventing environmental damage than the congressionally mandated double-hull design.
 The report urged Congress to reconsider its position excluding all tanker designs except double-hull in the face of overwhelming technical evidence from around the world that other designs may be equivalent or better.
 The study, prepared by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Skaarup Oil Corporation, came to this conclusion after reviewing all relevant tanker design studies conducted over the last four years.
 A mid-deck tanker has a horizontal partition halfway up its cargo area. Oil above the partition is fully protected from any accidents except air attack. Cargo below the mid-deck is protected in a grounding by the basic laws of physics. If a hole is punched in the bottom of the ship, the greater hydrostatic pressure outside the vessel forces the oil in the lower cargo section upward into areas deliberately left empty.
 The report acknowledged that the probability of "zero outflow" of oil in a grounding is better for a double-hull than a mid-deck tanker, However, and most importantly, the oil outflow in both moderate and severe accidents is estimated to be considerably less for mid-deck ships than double hull.
 The study states that "The moist important matter for protection of marine environment is to prevent very large oil spills near shore, which inevitably overwhelm man's ability to make effective cleanup."
 The report notes that the second of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 that permits only double-hull tankers seems to be based on the sole criterion of zero outflow. The report argues that reduction or catastrophic accidents with large oil loss is far more important for the environment than reducing the number of smaller spills.
 Technology and procedures have been developed for handling small to moderate spills that might occur with the grounding of mid-deck tankers. However, oil cleanup technology is woefully inadequate for the large spills that would be more likely with double-hull tankers.
 The report commented "We feel the mid-deck is clearly the better choice, because it has a much greater probability of eliminating the rare but largely uncontrollable catastrophic spills which do the most damage and are the source of public outrage."
 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. is a leading manufacturer of heavy machinery engaged in the production of a broad range of products including ocean going vessels. Skaarup Oil Corporation of Greenwich, Conn., is part of the Skaarup Group, a major owner and operator of bulk carriers.
 For copies of the study contact Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America, 212-969-9000, or (fax) 212-262-2113.
 -0- 5/18/93
 /CONTACT: Akira Hirai of Mitsubishi, 03-3212-9311, or (fax) 03-3212-9832, or W. O. Gray of Skaarup, 203-622-6800, or (fax) 203-622-7564/


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PS-TS -- NY022 -- 9657 05/18/93 10:05 EDT
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Date:May 18, 1993
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