In a 2002 report by the OECD it was stated that “Every year, unscrupulous ship operators deliberately release more oil illegally into the global marine environment than all the combined oil spilled from the Aegean Sea (1992), the Braer (1993), the Sea Empress (1996), the Prestige (2002), and the Erika (2000).” Government regulators are becoming increasingly concerned with this increasing marine pollution problem and its environmental consequences and is aggressively tracking down these “midnight dumpers” using all techniques available to them including satellite surveillance and spill modeling.

QUALITAS together with its consultancy partner ASA-RPS have an extensive record of providing scientific and environmental advice and services as well as expert testimony and witness in legal cases for a range of private and government clients in environmental pollution incidents. Whether our customers are private companies, non-government organizations, government agencies or authorities, ASA-RPS and QUALITAS pride themselves on being flexible to meet the demands of customers in emergency situations, maritime accidents or environmental pollution incidents and spills that can occur anytime around the world.

The majority of prosecutions in international jurisdictions involving marine oil or chemical spills are carried out as “criminal cases and civil action claims” with severe financial penalties being handed down by public prosecutors. In some cases jail sentences for those found responsible, including ship captains, supervisors, management and even corporate executives. In most of the cases damage claims for compensation and restoration costs arise.

Operational Oceanography. Litigation support

The onus on prosecutors in criminal cases is to prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that the marine pollution offence has occurred by the party being prosecuted. Under most international legal jurisdictions civil actions require a decision based upon not reasonable doubt regarding the evidence but by the “weight of evidence” in the favor of the litigant or defendant. ASA-RPS and QUALITAS provide a range of services to assist government or maritime departments, agencies or authorities in collecting, assessing and presenting complex scientific and environmental evidence associated with the litigation case. Also ASA-RPS and QUALITAS provide clients with unbiased, objective and skilled scientific advice and environmental forensic services in defending nuisance cases and for the protection of innocent parties in criminal pollution and civil action cases.

Whatever the case and background, it is essential that qualified and experienced professional scientists assess and interpret the technical analytical data and provide a well-structured and detailed statement that can be read and understood by the layperson. Whether the court proceedings involves a jury, judge or magistrate none would have any detailed understanding of the technology, its use nor its limitations.