A plan is for an event that could happen, the timing and size of which is not known.
Every exercise or oil spill will require changes to the plan as they are all different, telephone numbers go out of date, companies fold and are born. All of these things need to be born in mind when using a plan. As I said in the training section if you are having an exercise then exercise the plan as well it needs to be a live and dynamic document not something gathering dust on a shelf.
The Oil Pollution Preparedness Response and Cooperation 1990 (OPRC90) develop under the auspices of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) which came into force in 1995. All countries that are signature must have in place in their countries contingency plans as well as a national plan. The United States of America also have this as part of their Oil Pollution Act 1990 (OPA90).
The plan is the main key to a successful response and gets everything moving on the right track quickly, as long as all the key players have read and understand their responsibilities within the plan. They are written by many different organisations and are structured differently so there is a need for it to read by all concerned within it, exercises should be carried out at least twice per year using the plan. This with company cut backs and manning levels can be difficult.
Many plans get shelved and only see the light of day when the problem arrives, this is when you find out the telephone numbers do not work or companies have closed. The greater percentage of oil spills happen during holidays, weekends or out of office hours. The whole idea of having the plan is to get in front of the problems before they arise if it has not been kept up to date then you are exactly where we were 15 years ago having to make things up as you go along.
It can be difficult to plan for a spill when you do not know how much oil might be spilled. Here is a list of quantities that has been used as a rule of thumb for many years.
Maximum credible spill sizes:
Oil spills and their derivatives in port complexes, platforms and pipelines can cause operational disruptions, personal injury, socio-economic and environmental impacts of varying degrees of severity. The consequences of these episodes are directly associated with the characteristics and quantities of product involved, with the individual features and sensitivities of the environments hit and/or threatened, and with the constant oceanographic and meteorological variations and fluctuations in maritime traffic that affect port areas and coastal regions.
In addition to adversely affecting the images of the companies involved in events of this kind, oil pollution incidents generate financial losses as a result of stock market trading, imposed fines and cost of emergency response actions. They can also have legal implications for the polluters, by virtue of the existence of legislation in each country regulating this issue, in addition to other legal instruments at state and municipal levels.
As an example the Exxon Valdez 1989 in Alaska cost Exxon US$1 billion in the first year of the cleanup. This figure has been eclipsed by the obsured cost of Deepwater Horizon. It should be said that costs of spills outside of the USA are much more realistic to the damage cause.
In view of these facts there is a need to highlight the importance of adopting preventive action to manage the risks inherent in activities involving oil and its derivatives, any oil pollution incident should be responded to rapidly and effectively, irrespective of the potential for harm to people and the environment, and damage to public and private property and other wide-ranging interests.
For this reason, oil spills are responded to internationally by means of adequate logistics and infrastructure, linked Emergency or Contingency Plans. Basically, they differ in relation to the scope and severity of the expected consequences and levels of involvement of the community, private companies and public agencies that act directly or indirectly in the control of oil pollution incidents.
In the search for effective actions to minimise the impacts of these events, Emergency and Contingency Plans must be understood as practical planning instruments for defining attributes and responsibilities, specifying strategies and response actions, and presenting the infrastructure and logistics available for limiting the scope and minimising the adverse effects of oil pollution incidents.
A set of measures that determine and establish the responsibilities and actions to be initiated immediately after an incident. It also defines human and material resources and equipment suitable for preventing, controlling and combating the pollution of bodies of water.
A set of procedures and actions aimed at integrating the various emergency plans, as well as defining human and material resources and additional equipment for preventing, controlling and responding to the pollution of bodies of water.
Any form of hydrocarbon (oil and its derivatives), including crude oil, fuel oil, sludge, residues and refined products;
Mixture of oil and water in any proportions.
Structuring of plans
Plans should be developed according to the recommendations in the legislation mentioned above, in addition to any other state and/or municipal legislation, and to satisfy the requirements laid down by the Environmental Agency to which plans must be submitted.
The selection of accident scenarios, quantities of oil and their probable behavior in the environment should satisfy the requirements specified in the laws of each country.
Plan objectives and limitations
The intention is to show and specify the objectives of the plan and any existing technical and/or legal restrictions in given situations and/or regions, so that the participants are fully aware of the “goals” and “limits” laid down beforehand in the plan.
Identifying the company
It is necessary to specify the installations covered by the plan, and give registration information concerning the company, the proprietor and the plan coordinators, as follows:
Description of installations
This is a description of the main characteristics of units, plant and equipment and systems for production, processing, storage and transport of oil, as well as the facilities available for use in emergency operations in the event of oil pollution incidents.
A specification of the main physical-chemical and toxicological properties of the substances categorized as “oil” and “oily mixtures” in the installations, with details of the following, among others:
These are detailed descriptions of possible accident scenarios covered by the Plan, with an indication of the type and quantity of product spilled, as well as the probable behavior of the oil in terrestrial environments and the drift of slicks in aquatic environments.
Selection of accident scenarios is a prerequisite for preparing Emergency or Contingency Plans, given the respective response capability, which is directly linked to the respective extent of the events studied and the scope and severity of the associated consequences. For this purpose, accident scenarios are identified and selected by preparing RAS (Risk Analysis Studies) specific to the company activities assessed, involving the following basic stages:
The photo above left is the result of a drunk with a .338 hunting rifle, causing 285,000 gallons of crude to coat a forested area has been ordered to pay over $17 million in restitution costs for the act. Not being able to pay he was sentenced to 16 years in jail.
The tiered response is widely accepted and provides response levels and a practical basis for planning.
Immediate response with local personnel and equipment.
Small operational spills at jetties and terminals that are reported to the authorities but cleaned up by the operator.
Spill amounts have been cited but the oil type and surrounding environment will have a great influence over the actual level of response.
In the US they are classed as average most probable discharges.
Local and regional assistance required.
A large spill, either at or in the vicinity of a facility, that cannot be handled by the operator alone. The port or local authority will manage it.
Assistance may come from a number of entities within a port area or from sources outside the immediate geographical area.
Tier 2 describes a wide range of spill sizes and potencial scenarios. The diagram below left shows a grey area either side of the tier 2 to reflect this.
In the US they are classed as maximum most probable discharges.
National and/or International assistance required.
A major spill at or remote from a facility that will require the national contingency plan to be involked and national resources to be mobilised. This will requiring the mobilisation of all national resources and depending on the circumstances will more than likely involve the mobilisation of regional and international equipment and personnel. This is when customs and immigration arrangements are critical for a successful response.
In the US they are classed as the worst case discharge. t was not stated anywhere what quantity of oil spilled constitutes Tier 1, 2 or 3. Some countries have stated quantities for each tier,
unfortunately for companies in these countries the people who made the decision do not know anything about oil spill resonse and do nask anyone who does know for advice.
Dependent on the remoteness of the location depends on how much equipement and personnel will be required for a Tier 1 incident.
Most terminals prepare for up to 20 tonnes, dependent on the oil type and how fast assistance can arrive. 10 tonnes of Light oil will spread quickly away from the site of the spill and therefore help will be needed. 10 tonnes of Heavy oil will stay close to the site.
In the case of Exxon Valdez, it took 24 hours for the first out of state responders to arrive in Alaska. In the aftermath it was deemed that the Tier 1 response for Prince William Sound would be capable of dealing with a spill of 38,000m3 for 24/7.
Encompasses the entire national response plan which is the document which establishes policy and the national organisation for the response to oil pollution. All local plan for vessels, ports, harbours, oil handeling facilities and offshore units should have be written to have an interrelationship with the national plan.
Consists of bilateral or multilateral response plans or agreements with other countries as well as regional response organisations.
The importance of these agreements to have a concept of sustainable development cannot be overstated. This provides for pooling of resources and effective response to a rare large oil spill event. No individual country no matter how wealthy can sustain these levels of equipment and personnel needed for a worst case spill.
Is the network of inter-regional plans or agreements. This includes the operation of the IMO oil pollution co-ordination centre and relationships, both formal and informal among the secretariats of various regional agreements world-wide.
In Incident Command System ICS there are 5 types of which 5 is the smallest and 1 is the largests (just to confuse the situation). The types and terminology are below. More on ICS in the Management Section
Type 5 Initial
Type 4 Routine
Type 3 Non- Routine Local Incident
Type 2 Very Complex Regional to National Event
Type 1 Highly Complex National Interest
It is important to remember that both the accident scenario definitions and the respective quantities involved and probable behavior of the oil spill should satisfy the requirements specified in the regulations laid down for each country.
The oil industry has established major tier 3 cooperative response organizations on a regional basis throughout the world to provide equipment and specialist manpower to reinforce local capabilities in responding to the largest spills. You will find the main ones under the Response Bases tab.
This specifies the territorial limits of the region covered by the Plan, whose reference limits are defined according to the expected extent of the set of events studied.
Characterisation of areas of interest
This is a description of the main characteristics and features relating to the biotic, physical and anthropic environment for incidents in the areas covered by the Plan. This information is of paramount importance for the correct selection of techniques, plant and equipment, and materials to be used in the oil pollution incident response. In addition, the following must be detailed:
Infrastructure of each locality, and in particular:
Response organisational structure
This is the organisational structure for the response formalized in the Plan, covering human resources (own and contracted out), with the following itemised specification;
It is essential to include in this section a management chart clearly and objectively indicating interrelations between the parties involved in the response organisational structure.
It is also essential to stipulate alternatives for substituting persons playing key roles in the Plan, since it is possible at any time that someone may become unavailable, either because of personal accident, sudden illness, fatigue or other unpredictable impediment.
Response equipment and materials
This is a detailed specification of the material resources to be used in combating oil pollution incidents, including but not limited to the following;
This section should contain the following additional information:
Support equipment and resources
This covers the composition of a set of documents useful for decision-making, and including the following;
This is a specification of the same types and quantities of response materials and equipment as those mentioned in the previous section, but with the following additional information:
This refers to the specification of dedicated devices, systems and procedures for identifying leaks and spills and signaling the alert for these occurrences.
This entails setting up procedures and preparing forms for recording oil pollution incident information, as well as the initial measures adopted, by both the person identifying the fact and the person responsible for activating the Plan.
Communications, activating and mobilisation routines
This describes dedicated procedures for formalising the occurrence of an oil pollution incident, both for those involved in the Plan and also for the agencies and public authorities that play a direct or indirect part in events of this kind. For this reason, wherever possible, the next two stages should be executed simultaneously and as fast as possible.
Activating the plan
This refers to the procedures to be adopted by the person responsible for activating the Plan, according to the magnitude of the event. This section should contain a list of coordinators and duty personnel forming the response teams of the company and other public and private entities involved in the Plan. In this respect, in addition to their names, it should also specify the preferred and alternative means of contact, such as commercial and home telephone numbers, mobile phone numbers, fax and radio equipment call information, where available, specifying the frequencies and operation prefixes.
Initial communication of the incident
This covers the procedures to be adopted by the person responsible for formally communicating the occurrence of an oil pollution incident to both the Competent Environmental Agency and Port or Rivers Authority, and also to the ANP – the government’s National Petroleum Agency, responsible for the Petroleum sector.
This section, like the previous, must contain a list of names of agency representatives who should be officially notified of the event that has occurred. It should therefore also contain the telephone and fax numbers of the appropriate institutions, and their email addresses.
This section describes the specific procedures that should be initiated and operationalised to combat oil pollution incidents, according to the magnitude and severity of each event.
In view of the specific nature and large number of response actions taken to deal with oil pollution incidents, these are discussed individually in the sections below, presented in the logical order of execution. However, we should mention that in individual operations and according to the extent of each event, many actions will be operationalised simultaneously because of the enormous demand for specific and one-off tasks for which the combat teams are responsible.
Initial assessment and associated measures
This refers to the initial assessment to be carried out at the location of the occurrence, at locations affected and areas at risk. The objective is to select and dimension the human and material resources necessary for prompt action, as well as prioritising actions and locations of intervention, according to the sensitivity of the exposed environments.
It is important to point out that this assessment is crucial and decisive, since the initial steps taken will certainly influence subsequent combat stages. This can attenuate or aggravate impacts on the community, and also cause human and environmental accidents, with damage to company assets, and public and third party property.
Interruption of the spill or leak
This section lays down the operational procedures for shutting off the active polluting source, according to the specific event and the accident scenario dealt with in the Plan.
Prioritisation of response
This section lays down a criterion for selecting priority locations and the respective response actions, according to the relevance of each environment affected or at risk.
If environmental sensitivity maps are available of the area covered by the Plan, they should be used as a reference source, since they contain a lot of relevant information on which to base a criterion of this type. However, if the maps are not available, the classification parameters can help in preparing a criterion applicable to coastal regions.
For terrestrial environments and inland bodies of water, since there are no official norms classifying them, below are by way of example, some parameters that may help in preparing a criterion for prioritising locations likely to need intervention or protection:
It is important and recommended that the criterion adopted should be notified to, assessed and accepted by the Competent Environmental Agency. This is a way of avoiding future conflict between the authorities and those involved in the Plan when decisions are made in real situations.
Finally, remember that the locations to be serviced or protected on a priority basis, as well as the response actions, can be altered, whether because of the results obtained as the work progresses or because of the influence of other factors, such as favorable or unfavorable weather, and changing oceanographic or hydrological conditions.
This section describes the procedures to be adopted to contain the oil in terrestrial and aquatic environments, aimed at limiting the extent of the events that have occurred and minimising the impact and damage caused by oil pollution incidents. The set of procedures should include specific pollution containment and control actions in the following environments;
Remember that oil pollution incident response action can generate additional impacts on ecosystems already weakened by the presence of the oil, those at risk and/or those used to facilitate containment actions.
Another important point that should be mentioned is that oil spills are, by their very nature, big waste generators. This can be aggravated during emergency operations, above all where procedures and/or material resources unsuited to the contaminated environments are applied.
For this reason, it is important to have prior knowledge of the features of the environments in the Plan’s coverage and of the behavior of oils involved in the accident scenarios. In this way, the response actions and material resources selected will not aggravate environmental impacts, and will not cause damage to third party and public property and/or unnecessarily increase the amount of oily waste generated.
This section describes specific procedures that should be adopted during oil recovery operations, according to the environment concerned:
As mentioned in the prious section, it is important to point out that the containment and collection of oil are big generators of waste and potentially aggressive to exposed environments. This is why it is of paramount importance to have prior knowledge of the individual features of locations contaminated and/or under threat, and the behavior of the oils involved in accident scenarios, with the aim of correctly selecting the techniques and resources to be used in combat operations.
This is a specification of the routines and procedures for inspecting terrestrial and aquatic environments, with a view to assessing both the extent and the severity of the pollution, and also the results obtained after initiating response actions. The following procedures are required depending on the types of environment contaminated and/or under threa
To facilitate the recording and organization of the information gathered in the field, specific forms should be used for each type of inspection. Later, this data will be used to help in subsequent decision-making and prepare technical reports..
Assessment of oil in the environment
This section provides a definition of a criterion and the respective procedures that will orient the execution of quantitative and qualitative oil assessments in terrestrial and aquatic environments, based on the monitoring operations carried out in the areas affected by oil spills.
It is worth pointing out that this criterion is not aimed at estimating the quantity of oil spilled in an occurrence. These assessments are merely operational and intended exclusively to estimate the quantity and degree of weathering of the oil present in the environment. This helps to correctly select the response actions, material resources applicable and also the most appropriate locations for setting up pollution combat operations.
Bearing in mind that both the mobility and the degradation of the oil in the environment are directly linked to the physical-chemical properties of the chemicals and the intrinsic capacity of each environment to retard or accelerate the spread of the oil, separate assessments should be made for the following:
It is worth mentioning that the most widely-used international visual criterion for estimating the quantity of oil in slicks is that of the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF). This criterion adopts reference values to be applied to slick segments, according to the appearance and colouring of the floating oil. In European countries the BONN agreement model is used. Both of these are covered in more detail in the Strategies/Evaluation section.
However, it is also important to mention that the values adopted in the models, should serve only as a reference. This is because the influence of adverse weather and oceanographic conditions, as well as other factors relating to the process of weathering of the oil, can result in very inaccurate or even incorrect estimates. In addition, the simple fact that visual acuity differs from person to person, especially in unfavorable visibility and lighting conditions, can lead to distorted results, which is why visual estimates, whatever the criterion, must always be made jointly by two or three technicians with a proven track record.
Bearing all this in mind, whenever possible the quantities of oil estimated by visual inspections should be confirmed by direct measurement of the thickness of oil in the slick. This procedure will unquestionably produce results far closer to reality.
This section establishes procedures for collecting and conserving samples of the product spilled the water and contaminated substrates, as well as species of flora and fauna affected by the spill.
To facilitate the application of these procedures in terms of correctly identifying samples, origins, dates and collectors, forms of the type shown below should be prepared;
Types of test, analytical methods and relevant parameters should be defined according to the purpose for which sampling was carried out, the characteristics of the oil and generated waste, as well as the species affected.
Chemical and mechanical dispersion
This section describes the guidelines and procedures that should be followed in operations to disperse the floating oil mechanically or chemically.
It is important to point out that there are technical and legal restrictions on operations of this kind. It is therefore recommended to execute these response actions only when:
It is justifiable to impose these conditions for the following reasons:
Cleaning affected locations
This section describes the procedures to be used in cleanup operations for coastal and terrestrial environments and on artificial structures, bearing in mind the following factors, among others:
This section defines the procedures that should guide cleanup and decontamination actions in the locations affected, including the following stages:
The section should include specifications of the procedures for logging and controlling waste collected and dispatched, and the equipment, materials and chemical products used.
All activities associated with waste management should be accompanied and/or authorized by the Competent Environmental Agency.
Updating relevant information
This refers to the specification of routines and procedures for obtaining and updating weather, hydrological, oceanographic and other information with an indication of information types and periodicities.
Recording response actions
This section describes the procedures for logging actions initiated, response equipment and materials used, and the results obtained. This information will help to clean up the Plan and also to prepare the reports on the operations carried out.
Assessment of results and termination of operations
This section describes the criteria and procedures for continuously assessing the results obtained, with a view to:
Re-establishing the response capability
This section describes the routines and procedures required for re-establishing the effective response capability of the Plan, taking into account:
It is recommended that this routine be applied as soon as each combat front is demobilised, to minimise the unavailability time of the response structure in the plan.
This section gives the specifications of control instruments and respective procedures necessary to perfect and update the Plan, with a view to guaranteeing its applicability and reliability.
It is important that the Plan be revised periodically to incorporate experience acquired in both simulated exercises and real operations.
Remember that the alert, communications and activation listings should be updated periodically, together with the inventory of response equipment and materials, and their respective availabilities.
The annexes should include additional documentation for the Plan, such as:
This section describes a specific training program developed on the basis of the accident scenarios in the Plan, aimed at individual enhancement and recycling and also at the integration of coordinators, response teams, support teams and the representatives of public agencies involved directly in the combat and control of oil pollution incidents.
In addition to the periodicity with which it is applied, this program should also specify the following types of exercise:
Technical and administrative reports
This section describes the standardised models for reports that should be prepared at the end of the operation.
ITOPF suggested 10 points that contingency plans should contain to be useful during an incident. If your plan does not contain them all then it needs to be reviewed.
The Marine Fisheries Agency (MFA) also have their own Marine Pollution Contingency Plan which can befound at:
IMO MANUAL CONTINGENCY PLANNING RECOMMENDATIONS
ISSUES TO BE CONSIDERED WHEN DEVELOPING LOCAL OIL POLLUTION EMERGENCY PLANS
B RESPONSE SYSTEM AND POLICIES
D PLAN REVIEW
E TRAINING, EXERCISES AND DRILLS
F AREA ASSESSMENTS
G HEALTH AND SAFETY POLICY
H SCENARIO DEVELOPMENT
I APPLICABLE DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS
Operational considerations. Each chapter should have a corrisponding checklistdeveloped to assist responders.
B JURISDICTIONAL BOUNDARIES
D COMMAND POST
E DATA COLLECTION
F OPERATIONAL ADMNISTRATION
H SPECIALIST TEAMS
K SENSITIVE AREAS
L MECHANICAL RESPONSE STRATEGIES
M NON MECHANICAL STRATEGIES
O TRANSPORT, STORAGE AND DISPOSAL OF WASTE
P FUNDING AND COST DOCUMENTATIONS
Q PUBLIC AND MEDIA RELATIONS
R DEMOBILISATION AND TERMINATION OF OPERATIONS
OIL POLLUTION EMERGENCY PLAN FOR OFFSHORE UNITS, SEAPORTS AND OIL HANDELING FACILITIES
LIST OF ESSENCIAL ELEMENTS
A UNDERLYING PHILOSPHIES
D OIL SPILL CLEAN-UP
E TRAINING AND EXERCISES
F PUBLIC INFORMATION
OUTLINE OF A NATIONAL OIL POLLUTION EMERGENCY PLAN
B RESPONSIBILITIES AND ORGANISATIONS FOR RESPONSE
C PREPAREDNESS AND PLANNING
D RESPONSE3 OPERATIONS
E REPORTS AND COMMUNICATIONS
SUGGESTIONS FOR AN INTERNATIONAL OIL POLLUTION EMERGENCY PLAN
B POLICY ANDRESPONSIBILITY
C RESPONSE ELEMENTS AND PLANNING
D RESPONSE OPERATIONS
E REPORTS AND COMMUNICATION
F ADMINISTRATION AND LOGISTICS
G PUBLIC INFORMATION
OK now you have a plan and you know where you are within it. Use it and keep it up to date it is your best response tool in the early hours of an incident.
A ‘response gap’ exists when activities that may cause an oil spill are conducted during times when an effective response cannot be achieved, either because echnologies available will not be effective or because their deployment is precluded ue to environmental conditions or other safety issues (Robertson, 2007).
Dependent on where you are in the world and the climatic conditions you will find that during certain periods (gaps) of the year the equipment and stratgies you have within the plan will not work. There is a link to a WWF report for the Arctic region where during certain months of the year ice build up inhibits the normal stratgies. In this report there is a worrying statement (Response gap analysis in Prince William Sound (Alaska, USA) hows no response possible for 65% of winter season in one location). This may also be a serious problem outside the Arctic i.e. the Northern Caspian Sea in Kazhakstan or the Bohai Bay in China etc.
So there is a possiblity that different equipment may have to be purchased or different stratgies implimented during these gaps.
A response gap analysis involves a calculation of the response operating limits of spill response systems for a set of environmental factors, such as wind, sea state, sea ice, visibility, etc., and an analysis of the frequency, duration, and timing of conditions that would preclude a response in a particular location. The methodology must account for the cumulative interplay between factors that would cause two or more variables that are individually within the system’s limits to exceed those limits when combined. An assessment of the frequency, duration and timing of occurrence of one or more limiting factors or limiting combinations is then performed using either modelled or historical environmental and climate data for a given location or area.
In order to analyse the response gap for a given location, the upper operating limits of the response system or systems in question must be established. This assessment requires analysis and study of the response equipment and procedures beyond stating that they are present on-scene and citing manufacturer ratings; the effectiveness of the system in actual conditions that may exist in the likely operating environment must be demonstrated.
A response gap calculation is by nature an estimate, as it is impossible to predict future conditions exactly, even with extensive historical data. This is especially true in the context of climate change. However imperfect, historical data can be used to characterise ‘average’ conditions over a period of time – a month, season or year – to determine the likelihood that environmental factors will render a spill response ineffective.
A reliable response gap analysis requires data on environmental factors over several years. The data should represent actual operating conditions in a potential spill impact area, such as in the vicinity of a drill rig or a major shipping route. Factors other than those related to environmental conditions can be incorporated as well, such as availability of response resources or existing daily, seasonal or weather based operating restrictions.
A response gap analysis for a particular location sheds some light on the frequency, duration and timing of conditions during which no response is viable at a particular site. If a response gap exists at a particular location at a particular time, different policy, planning or development options can be explored to bridge the gap, either by improving response capability or limiting operations when the environmental conditions would preclude a response.
It is recommended that the following steps to ensure that oil and gas operations both existing and new rely on realistic expectations when developing oil spill contingency and response plans:
Oil Spill Response Challenges
Perform a response gap analysis for proposed and existing oil operations to quantify the percentage of time during which local conditions exceed the demonstrated limits of spill response systems.
Consider the existence and scope of a response gap as a contributing factor to overall spill risks over the life of the operation, and factor the response gap into oil spill vulnerability and risk assessments. Weigh environmental sensitivity data against response gap information for both location and timing.
Determine an acceptable threshold for response gaps for a specific operation or location. This process must involve local governments and stakeholders, as well as natural resource managers. Establish “no go” zones or closure limits as appropriate for areas where the existence or magnitude of a response gap is found to create an unacceptable level of risk.
If oil and gas operations are to proceed where a response gap exists, design prevention systems or operating restrictions to improve safety and minimise spill risks during times when no response is feasible.
Assess local response capabilities. Consider the impact of infrastructure limits and logistical requirements to spill response operations. Remote areas may not have the airstrips, ports, or support services required to mount a large-scale response. Likewise, they may lack the infrastructure to house and feed response personnel for the duration of a response (months to years).
Develop oil spill contingency plans that contain realistic response scenarios to show the resources and personnel required to respond to a worst-case discharge and provide realistic timeframes for their mobilisation and deployment and realistic estimates of their cleanup capacity. Explain how adverse conditions might affect the response.
Ensure that research and development efforts to improve spill response technologies also address logistical support and deployment considerations, and that individual technologies are field tested in the context of the overall response system.
Here is an example from
Response gap analysis in
A response gap analysis was conducted for two points on the
Limiting factors were considered both in terms of independent and cumulative impacts. When two or more factors existed to make a response ‘impaired,’ then response was considered ‘impossible’ for that time period. The
It is important to note that within the area of study (
(This was incorporated into the analysis described above.) These systems are both examples of mitigating measures that can be put in place to limit the risk of oil spills when a response gap exists.
A similar analysis is ongoing to determine the response gap for non-mechanical response systems in
Integrated booming plans, emergency booming strategies.
This is a good idea gone wrong, usually because the people involved in positioning red lines on a map have never had to physically deploy a boom.
It is normal during training course tabletop exercises, that people with little or no experience will put booms across the shortest point; Training exercises are good but there is a difference between them and responses. Training is usually done in good weather with a large group of delegates of whom many do not want to get their hands dirty.
Response is a small group of people who have a job to do as effectively as possible in a given time.
This leads to the red lines being drawn on maps of plans in the wrong places e.g. the narrowest part of a river, this uses less boom but it is where the strongest current will be. If it rains or when the tide turns. Red lines have found their way onto maps in plans around the world.
Once the line has been drawn, to anyone with little or no response knowledge that is where the boom has to be positioned and at the angle of the line.
Changes in tides during the month change the strength and direction of the currents in the area. With rivers changes with the seasons will cause more rainfall thus increasing the current speed. Changes in current speed will require booms to be re-positioned at different angles.
Let’s visit a few places:
North of Usinsk, Komi, Russian Federation is an oil field, when I visited it belonged to a joint venture called Komi Arctic. The nearest river is 250m wide with the water knee deep during the summer, frozen solid during the winter and full of broken ice during the spring.
A red line depicting the boom was drawn at 90˚to the river flow, tied off to the bridge piers, where the photos left were taken.
Anyone who knows the basics of boom deployment knows that booms positioned at 90˚ to the current will fail.
There is a big sweeping bend about a kilometer down stream. This is where it was suggested the placement of anchor blocks and building of a collection area in the river bank for the day when the spill happens.
It was complete when the training was finished. There were no restrictions by environmental agencies to this type of preparation.
I have connected the boom photo right at a mid channel buoy where the bend in the boom is.
This could only be done at slack tide. It is impossible when the tide is running due to the extra force on the boom.
This was found out when a team arrive a little late and the tide had turned the extra force parted the connection and broke the responders arm.
During a training course we were asked to carry out the practical exercise at the first most critical point on the companies plan. The river current could be between 0.5mps (meters per second) and 1.5 mps.
The access was good and the exercise went well on the day. It was later found out that the company had no equipment at the site and relied on another company supplying it from 200 kms away or 4 hours by road.
The basic problem is a mathmatical one, worst case 1.5mps x 4hrs = 21,600m + 1 hour for deployment 21,600m +5400m = 27,000m or 27kms from the supposed critical point.
With no equipment on site 27kms is the first point, did anyone do a recce to see if there is access at this now first point of response. Of course not.
It is probably to late to change these lines into circles. A circle around the area indicated as a recovery point does not allow anyone one to say the boom is at the wrong angle, it allows for flexibility which is the most important thing.
Throughout the development process consultation with other relevant agencies such as local authorities, fisheries departments, tourist boards and nature conservation bodies is essential to ensure their co-operation and input. Plans must be flexible and allow for seasonable variations.
When a plan has been completed it should be evaluated by a full-scale trial. This is very useful because the failure of a boom in an incident can waste valuable time and resources. In addition an unsuccessful deployment would appear incompetent to the public and media. However, there will be some sensitive locations where the planning or validation may show that booming is not possible.
In these cases it is essential to keep detailed records to demonstrate that booming has been considered but would not work in that particular location.
Here is what is considered one of the best response plans in this country I have decided not to name the place.
This estuary has one of the largest tidal ranges in Europe at approx 9m.
When the tide rises it rises slowly but when the tide turns the current increases dramatically especially through small inlets like this one.
The line was obviously drawn by someone with little or no knowledge of the subject this is drawn at place with the shortest distance from one bank to the other. Access is either by off-road vehicles or on foot!! Looking at the diagram you see the amount of water that will be flowing past this boom as the tide goes out.
The photos below show another estuary where, when asked during a training course would I though their plan had put a protection boom.
My answer was this area was the shortest distance so probably here. Unfortunately yet again I was right and it would not be effective.
Same mistake different country, this company put the red lines on the plan for their personnel to put deploy collection booms in a place with no access to vehicles.
The photo was taken at the end of the road in the red circle left.
Away from the road there is no access except on foot!!
In the past people had to go to these places to see what was on the ground.
Nowadays they can sit in the office and use Google Earth which is a good tool but not as good as seeing the real thing.
I have no problem with the idea of integrated booming plans or emergency booming strategies are essential for an effective response.
I do have a serious problem with red lines; let’s change the line for a circle. Now as a responder is not restricted to make the decision as to what angle and where the boom should be positioned on the day of the incident. This would be more efficient and safer for the responder.
There is always a need by some people to protect everything. Unfortunately with the best will in the world there will always be places that cannot be totally protected.
This is one of the places, there have been occations when we were asked to boom the mouth of this area near Portsmoth in the south of england.
This sort of area fills slowly during the rising tide but when the tide turns all the water needs to leave through the narrow entrance.
During this time the current speed will reach double figures and no boom in the world would be able to withstand those forces without doing serious damage.
The photo right is during the falling tide in the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia the height of the tide can reach an 16 meters (53ft) in the back of the bay.
During each tide cycle 100 billion tonnes of water leaves the bay.
That is more than the flow of all the world’s freshwater rivers combined.