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News - 18/11/19

Exercise tests harbour oil spill response

On 7th November, Cowes Harbour Commission (CHC) hosted a multi-agency oil spill Incident Management Exercise with our oil spill response partners Adler and Allan, to test the capability and processes for dealing with a hydrocarbon spill in the harbour. Marine transfer barge Blade Runner Two, owned by Williams Shipping, was utilised during the exercise where a punctured fuel tank was simulated and oil spill response instigated.

Cowes Harbour Master Capt. Stuart McIntosh said: “This scenario was designed to exercise our Oil Spill Response Plan and the cooperation between CHC, Adler and Allan and other external parties that could be involved in an oil spill incident and clean-up in the harbour. These Incident Management Exercises are held once every three years, providing valuable experience of local conditions and spill scenarios and helping to enhance the skills and teamwork of all those who take part. The exercise also served as a useful test of our general contingency plans for use during any potential harbour emergency scenario, such as fire, sinkings, and navigation incidents.” 

Attending the exercise along with CHC and Adler and Allan were representatives from local harbours and marinas, the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service, Isle of Wight Council Emergency Planning Team, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Environment Agency, and Williams Shipping who had kindly allowed the use of their Blade Runner Two vessel.

Oil spill response exercise

In the exercise, the current arrangements and contingency measures for a “level Tier 2” response were tested, requiring the use of resources over and above the “Tier 1” equipment held by CHC for deployment in the harbour. The Oil Spill Management Team had to deal with a wide variety of issues involving the containment and removal of the oil, the safety of personnel, and the environmentally sensitive areas and populated sites close to the incident. A debrief was held at the end of the exercise to capture immediate feedback on the successes and lessons learned, and this will be followed by a fuller debrief and report from Adler and Allan to highlight any learning points or areas of concern, so that all involved can improve their plans and training.

More information about Cowes Harbour’s Oil Spill Response Plan can be found on the CHC website.