In a 1998 issue of the European Journal of Operational Research, Hans Gottinger offers his economic theory of monitoring oil barges where the optimal policy for monitoring includes a consideration of marginal benefit of increased patrols vs. size of spills expected.
It is shown that both the time distribution of different types of oil spills, and the distribution of spill size are affected by pollution control instruments such as fines, by enforcement effort, and by the alert level of the operating personnel.
So then the question becomes, can you stop a big spill with particular levels of enforcement? Can you only prevent small spills? Or, is it more about compliance? Do accidents happen?
Gottinger’s conclusion as a Wordle.