Oil spill drill in Poole Harbour yields success

As part of its on-going commitment to managing incidents in the harbour, Poole Harbour Commissioners (PHC) recently simulated a major oil spill to test capability and processes should it need to respond to a tier 2 hydrocarbon spill.

The major emergency exercise, which PHC carries out every three years, was facilitated by its contracted oil spill response partners, Adler & Allan. This year’s scenario involved an articulated lorry recently disembarked from a ferry, colliding with a 3,000l waste oil bulk storage tank causing waste oil to spread over the quay and head towards the water.

PHC works in collaboration with more than 15 organisations, including the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), Environment Agency, Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole Council (BCP), and Perenco to carry out these exercises. However, current Covid-19 restrictions and social distancing requirements meant this year’s task was held online for the first time.

As part of the Harbour Commissioner’s response to the practical element of the exercise, several booms were deployed from RoRo 3. In the event of a real oil spill situation, these booms would prevent any oil from flowing into environmentally sensitive areas. A skimmer was also used to demonstrate how the oil would be captured.

Although a major oil spill in the harbour is unlikely, it is important that the risk is assessed says PHC, and that a plan that has been approved by the MCA is in place to respond to such an incident, especially in such an environmentally sensitive area.

“Our Oil Spill Response Plan sets out the contingency arrangements for responding to an actual or threatened oil pollution incident within Poole Harbour,” says Captain Brian Murphy, Harbour Master.

“These exercises are vitally important in ensuring that our highly trained personnel are prepared to deal with such unfortunate circumstances professionally and swiftly, helping us to minimise any risk to health, wildlife, the environment, and to ensure business continuity.

“Testing our plan against various scenarios helps us to gain experience, be more prepared and allow us to continually improve our processes.”

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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