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In readiness for any pollution incident, the PLA-managed Thames Oil Spill Clearance Association (TOSCA) provides a 24-hour response to oil spills between Tower Bridge and Canvey Island.

Funded in part by the terminals that handle oil and oil products, the service has two purpose-built craft, each designed to collect and/or contain oil in the first critical hours after a spillage.


TOSCA Background

Boats on the river in front of Tower BridgeThe International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation (OPRC), was adopted by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in 1990.  The purpose of this convention to mitigate the consequences of a major oil pollution incident involving ships, offshore units, pipelines, seaports and oil handling facilities, through the mechanism of preparedness response planning.

The Port of London Authority (PLA) in conjunction with the local industry established Thames Oil Spill Clearance Associated (TOSCA) as a 24 hour 7 days a week marine oil spill response unit, in compliance with the OPRC and IMO legislation.

TOSCA is managed and operated by the PLA.   However, it is funded by a levy on oil and mineral cargos, as well as conservancy dues to cover bunker fuel.  TOSCA also has an impressive membership base providing an active association for the prepared response to pollution.


Smart Solution Created by Local Industry

TOSCA was established in 1992 to response to marine pollution incidents between Canvey Island and Tower Bridge


TOSCA Members

  • TOSCA Member LogosADM Erith
  • British Pipeline Agency
  • Esso Petroleum Company
  • Oikos Storage
  • Port of London Authority
  • Dredging International
  • Vopak
  • Thames Oil Port
  • Royal Docks Management Authority
  • Shell UK
  • Nu-star Terminals
  • TDG European Chemicals
  • United Storage
  • Van den Bergh Foods
  • Vopak UK
  • Environment Agency
  • Pura Foods
  • Tate and Lyle

TOSCA Equipment

Marine Recovery Vessel – “Recover”

The vessel is fitted with a Lamour brush disk cartridge system installed between the Catamarans two hulls.  When operating in collection mode the brush system is lowered by hydraulic rams, until it is partially immersed in the polluted water.  Oil floating on the surface of the water is forced into the cartridge by the forward motion of the vessel and onto the oleophilic fibre brushed fixed to the circumference of each of five disc wheels mounted on a common axle.
As the discwheels are rotated through the polluted water, oils ticks to the brushes and is carried up to the top of the cartridge where it is removed from the brushed into a collection tank by a series of scraper blades.  The vessel has two 4 tonne holding tanks in the catamaran hulls.
The Lamor oil collection cartridge is capable of collecting oil of varying viscosities and has a maximum collection rate of 100 cubic meters per hour.

A catamaran on the water


Vessel Statistics

Vessel Name Recover
Vessel Type Prout Catamaran
Length Overall 16.5m
Beam 6.8m
Draught 1.2m
Displacement 27 T
Engines 2 Caterpillar 3406E diesel engines, 770bhp at 2200 RPM each
Top Speed 22 Knots
Equipment on Board Spate Pump x 1, Lamour Brush Disk Skimer, Sea Mop 3040, Sorbent Boom x 28 Bags


Standby Recovery Vessel – “Respond”

Respond is fitted with a crane, per-static pump, power pack, delta head skimmer and side sweep system.  Exercise deployment.

The vessel normally carries two 1 tonne recovered oil storage tanks on deck.  A box ramp may be lowered to assist access to the source of pollution.

A RTK 512 on the waterVessel Statistics

Vessel Name Respond
Vessel Type RTK 512
Length Overall 12.65m
Beam 3.2m
Draught 0.5m (drives raised), 0.9m (direves lowered)
Displacement 10.5T
Main Engines 2 Volvo Penta AD/42 DP diesel engines, 165HP at 3600 RPM each
Stern Drives 2 Volvo 290A 1.61:1 reduction
Top Speed 25 knots
Equipment on Board Schultz tank x 1, Spate pump x 1, Delta Head Skimmer x 1 + Hoses, Sorbent Boom x 2 bags


Barge – “Vital”

The barge ‘Vital’ acts as a service platform, it can be quickly moved to the scene of an oil spill, by use of its quick release mooring, or the booms it carries can be craned into the water and towed to the scene.  The hold stores potable power packs, absorbent materials, skimmers and pumps, which the standby vessel ‘Respond’ can quickly deliver to other locations

Barges on the waterEquipment on the Vital

  • Dragonfly skimmer + hoses
  • Seabed weir skimmer + hoses
  • Air blower x 2
  • Water pump x 2
  • Spate pump x 2
  • Ro Boom Beach 800 x 2 (405m)
  • Ro Boom Bay 1500 x 1 (200m)
  • Troilboom 1100 + tow ends x 10 (84m)
  • Troilboom 1100 + tow ends x 10 (140m)
  • Vikoma Shore Guardian x 8 bags + Repair kit (160m)
  • Komara 12k Disc Skimmer
  • Komara Hydraulic Pump Power Pack
  • Rope Mop OM 14 OB
  • Anchors x 12
  • Sorbaide 2 bale
  • RP 18 Rolls x 1
  • Absorbent Boom 30 Bags 6m per Bags (200m)
  • De-Solve IT 1000 x2, drums
  • Plastic sacks x 50
  • 4 marker buoys
  • Various hoses
  • 2 set of brothers 1m length Rope
  • Chestnut stakes x 6
  • Tow ends x 3
  • Fast Tank x 6
  • 10 KW diesel power pack x 2

Additional Information

People using equipment to clean up an oil spillAdditional stockpiled oil spill equipment is held by the PLA at strategic locations, providing additional resilience to a comprehensive oil spill response plan.
TOSCA is a tier one responder, defined under a three tier system based on the classification and magnitude of oil spill, and is used to determine the appropriate level of response.
The Tier two responder for the Port of London is Adler & Allan.

A Tier three response in the Port of London would be managed by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency MCA


Tier System Summary

Tier one – small operational spills.   A spill that can be dealt with immediately utilising local resources without assistance from other areas.

Tier two – medium sized spill.  A spill that requires assistance from other areas.

Tier three  - Large spills.  Beyond the capability of local and regional resources.  A spill that requires national assistance through the implementation of the National Contingency Plan



Emergency Planning

London River House,
Royal Pier Road,
DA12 2BG

Tel: +44(0) 1474 562299

Marine Services

Marine House, 
Denton Wharf,
Mark Lane,
DA12 2PL

Tel: +44(0) 1474 562421
E mail: [email protected]

The information in this document is the property of the Port of London Authority and may not be copied or communication to a third party, or used for any purpose other than for which it is supplied without the consent of the Port of London Authority.