Five minutes before the party is not the time to learn how to dance!
Training for oil spill events is something that should not be taken lightly. Unfortunately this has been and still is a serious problem world wide.
This photo above shows me conducting a briefing before an exercise involving three response organisation the client oil company and various government agencies. This is the time to show how everyone can work efficiently together towards a common goal (Thank you Daniel for the photo)
Response success depends upon good contingency plans and good people. Response teams must be properly trained, know their roles and be fully familiar with their duties. Regular and realistic training evokes a team spirit and develops the relationships which lead to success.
A well trained oil spill response technician will be expected to know and do the following;
To mention but 30. Things may change and other responsibilities will fall on his shoulders and so he will have to adapt.
Responders who can be expected to do all the above are few and far between and have spent many years gaining this amount of experience.
The only way to achieve the above skills is through continuous training and time in the field.
ISCO are offering members Professional Recognition in a profession that traditionally has not required high academic attainment but rather intuition, experience and skills only found by being on the job rather than only from a class room. They have decided to do something about it for the thousands of spill response professionals globally active who until now have not had the opportunity to show their skills and professionalism in a comparable light to lawyers, accountants and engineers. For further information, the letter introducing the initiative can be found with this link ISCO
Hopefully this section will help future response personnel get a head start with both the theoretical and practical experiences rather than the trial and error method.
It cannot be repeated enough that training, both theoretical and practical have a cost but unless it is done correctly it has no value. Practice makes perfect. Regular training exercises will reduce response times and damage to equipment as long as the people involved take it seriously and train for what could or probably will happen in the future.
The photo left shows one of our weekly boom deployments where we learned to minimise the amount of people necessary to deploy various booms safely and modify the equipment to perform better. When you have a small team you need to minimise the amount of people needed for one task so that various tasks can be performed at the same time in different locations.
I have been involved with so many exercises and simulations around the world where the main discussion point at the debriefing was how good the coffee and lunch break was, not whether the exercise went well.
In many cases the exercises are done for public relations and the local plan is never used. Equipment is pre positioned near the site to show how quickly the response would be. In many cases dependent on the hour of the day, rush hour etc the time will increase dramatically.
This is a very slippery slope, if you demonstrate you have the capability to the public during an exercise, then when the spill happens you are seen to be lacking trained people and it takes much longer to achieve. The same public and press will have a field day with you.
Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation (OPRC)
The OPRC 1990 Convention obliges governments to establish a programme of exercises for oil pollution response organizations and training of relevant personnel. It also calls on IMO to develop a comprehensive training programme in cooperation with interested governments and industry.
The IMO has developed a range of training courses to address all aspects of oil spill planning, response and management. These are known as the OPRC Model Courses. These courses have been designed and developed by an international group of experts from governments and industry. They are available in CD format and include instructor’s manuals, participant’s anuals and training aids, in the form of presentations and additional guidance and tools.
The IMO courses on oil pollution preparedness and response have been developed for three levels of competency: operational staff (Level 1), supervisors and on-scene commanders (Level 2) and senior management and administration personnel (Level 3).
It is important to note that while the courses are made available for purchase, the International Maritime Organization does not endorse or accredit training institutions for the delivery of the OPRC Model Courses. Though IMO personnel will be present at all Level 3 training courses.
Article 3 of the International Maritime Organisation’s OPRC Convention of 1990, sets down a requirement for all operators of Offshore Installations to have in place an Oil Pollution Emergency Plan approved by a Competent National Authority, which is compatible with that state’s National Contingency Plan.
The UK’s National Contingency Plan is owned and operated by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
Article 6 of the OPRC Convention of 1990 (adopted by the UK in 1994), sets down a requirement for all operators of offshore installations, drilling rigs and offshore loading terminals to have in place an oil spill response system that will include an element of prepositioned response equipment, training and regular exercise, appropriate to perceived risk.
Example:- all matters pertaining to shipping, harbours and terminals are controlled and administered by the UK Government’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), as the UK’s stated Competent National Authority. Standards of training and a format.
Offshore Oil Industry - Oil Spill Response Training Requirements in the UK Sector
Operators of offshore installations will identify training needs and ensure that all personnel whose work may involve the handling and/or management of an oil spill (from initial sighting to physical response) have received appropriate training. The level and frequency of training will be in accordance with the following 4 categories. Details will be specified by the operator, within the installation oil pollution emergency plan.
Under the Merchant Shipping (Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation Convention) Regulations 1998, these training courses bring the UK Offshore Oil Industry into line with existing requirements for personnel operating onshore oil terminals and ports.
DECC appointed the Nautical Institute to undertake accreditation of the following OPRC Oil Spill Response training courses applicable to offshore oil and gas operations:
The Nautical Institute and Marine Coast Guard (United Kingdom)
Accreditation procedures for offshore oil industry oil spill response courses in the UK
1. Accreditation of training needs;
The Institute will accredit the national training standard required by the DECC Aberdeen Office and MCA in the UK under the OPRC Convention.
2. Setting the training objectives
The accreditors will require clear training objectives for:
The overall training programme, Each module, Skills and knowledge content for each section and the accreditors will require syllabuses in tabular form covering:
Duties/responsibilities of operators, Knowledge required, Skills needed, Specialised skills i.e. training team members etc, Safety requirements, Method of testing candidates, Pass or fail criteria
3. Training programme
The accreditors will require details of the methods to be used in meeting the above objectives, the resources needed in terms of staff and material. Also the time allocation for sections of the training programme.
3. Training evaluation
The accreditors will require to see a simplified statement of training objectives, which will be provided to each trainee at the outset of their training in their documentation. An approved type of feedback form shall form a compulsory part of the course material and the analysis of the trainees’ response will be the subject of discussion during follow up visits from the accreditors.
Each training centre will be required to maintain a record of trainees attending relevant training programmes and maintain a record of certificates issued under this accreditation scheme. Each certificate will include the relevant national training standard level achieved.
4. Future developments in the training programme
The accreditors will therefore want to satisfy themselves that the staff and guest lecturers are themselves well briefed in new developments in spill response and have the time to participate in self development work. The Nautical Institute sees it as essential that the training centre encourages and maintains a record of real events and critical situations to be used specifically for training purposes. The assessors will require to see such a system established and operated.
Underlying the entire programme will be the requirement to emphasise safe practices. The assessors will require to satisfy themselves that this objective has been met and that:
The ways being taught are the right and safe ways, Trainees fully understand the observance of safety rules and regulations where they apply, Trainees understand their responsibilities towards others
The Nautical Institute will normally send a minimum of two accreditors to inspect Oil Spill Response Training Facilities, which will be required have available all of the necessary documentation to comply with the above requirements. The team will normally comprise:
A NI accreditation team leader who will conduct the assessment and satisfy himself that the training is relevant and practical. A qualified training officer whose main function will be to advise the team leader about the effectiveness of the training and the way in which it is carried out. The number of accreditors may be reduced according to assessment and circumstance.
7. The cost
The cost of accreditation will be borne by the centres, which are being accredited on the basis of full cost recovery only for the time, travel and accommodation costs incurred by those conducting the accreditation.
Where any party wishes to raise an issue, which cannot be resolved under normal circumstances, they may appeal directly to the DECC Aberdeen Office.
The Nautical Institute will accredit the training centre subject to a satisfactory standard being achieved. The training centre is required to maintain the standard achieved.
Re-accreditation will be required at three-yearly intervals. The Nautical Institute will keep a register of all training so approved and furnish copies to the Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organisation.
Training centres or oil companies wishing to seek accreditation should contact:
The Nautical Institute,
Education &Training Department,
202 Lambeth Road
London SE1 7LQ
Tel 020 7928 1351
Fax 020 7401 2817
IMO 1 First Responders:
This course was designed to improve the skills of personnel responsible for undertaking the on-site clean up operations. It provides them with an overview of the various techniques available for recovering oil at sea and cleaning of polluted shorelines. The course focuses on providing the knowledge and skills of spill response equipment, deployment, command and control.
Who should attend
Port and harbour personnel, local authority and oil company staff looking to hold first-line supervisory roles
IMO 2 On Scene Commander:
This course is designed to provide the basic knowledge and skills required of an Incident Commander and his team in an Incident Command Centre. The roles and responsibilities to manage a response. It includes coordination of other agencies involved in the response, response strategies decisions, techniques used during clean up, and the collation of information necessary to recover costs.
Who should attend
People who are relatively inexperienced in oil spill response, Managers and Supervisors, Environmentalists, Operators and Incident Command Team members.
IMO 3 Senior Managers & Administrators:
The overall management of an oil spill incident is a huge task and the issues such as the control of crisis situations, political interest, media pressures, public environmental awareness, legal and financial implications can all add substantial pressure to the oil spill response team and must be effectively handled for the overall response to be successful.
Who should attend
All officials responsible for emergency response management
The Sea Empress oil spill in South Wales in 1996 gave the UK Marine Coastguard Agency (MCA) the impetus to change the 3 IMO courses as in their opinion they went into too much depth for some small ports and harbour personnel who would be involved with small spills and the oil involved was usually diesel and only the use of absorbents would be the response.
The MCA courses have been constructed to reflect the content of the IMO/OPRC model courses.
In all cases, the
All courses will include the following oil spill response subjects at an appropriate level for each course.
The Nautical Institute runs an accreditation scheme for those organisations who train to these standards. The accreditation certificate has a life of 3 years when the courses and the organisation have to be re accredited.
Certificates for the courses are indiviualy numbered and carry the logos of the Nautical Institute and the MCA and also have a life of 3 years when a 1 day refresher course has to be done to be re certificated.
A list of NI/MCA accredited training providers can be found by clicking on the certificates.
I has been involved in the accreditation and re accreditation process 6 times for 3 different companies since its introduction in 1996.The majority of accredited organisations are expected to carry out training in the local language.
These courses outside the UK tend to be classed as the IMO levels, mainly because IMO is accepted internationally more than the
Gaining this accreditation in the first place and the subsequent re accreditation's prove that the companies involved have not only got the required levels of training courses but more importantly the experienced personnel to carry them out.
I am of the opinion that instructors need to have spent time in the field doing the job before they are capable of carrying out training courses. It is much easier to train an experienced response person to be an instructor than it is to train an experienced instructor about oil spill response.
Training is all about credibility, if you are not experienced in your subject you will be found out very quickly, usually by someone asking a question he or she knows the answer to. If you, do not know the answer the credibility of all the instructors present comes under scutiny.
Unfortunately this certifies that the persons completed the theoretical and practical elements of the training course but does not guarantee that during the 3 years to re-certification that exercises have been carried out.
The majority of accredited training providers are response companies, some are manufacturing companies.
In my opinion training should not turn into marketing of company equipment it should explain what types of equipment can be used in generic terms e.g a "mechanical skimmer" is just that, it is not a "Ocean Demon".
Hazardous material operations and emergency response HAZWOPER (USA)
The United States of America run their own system of training which applies to their rules and regulations, as they are signatory to OPA90 not the OPRC convention. Courses to various levels are done before a person can work on a spill in the USA.
The HAZWOPER standard covers 5 specific areas of operations, including:
Hazardous wastes are defined by the standard as:
[A] A waste or combination of wastes as defined in 40 CFR 261.3,or
The term HAZWOPER recently has been referenced in international cleanup, mostly where U.S. military bases are still being cleaned up, or in some cases with NATO allies such as Canada, particularly when U.S. firms are involved with Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response. While the OSHA standard does not apply to these operations, some of the countries involved are working on adopting similar standards to protect workers. In some cases it has proven difficult because they lack the safety infrastructure that the HAZWOPER standard is built on.
Levels of training
OSHA recognizes several levels of training, based on the work the employee will be performing and the level of hazard they will be facing. Each level requires a different training program, and OSHA specifies topics and minimum training times.
The training is what makes HAZWOPER unique. In some instances the training levels may or may not overlap in other cases these are prohibited by OSHA because workers without specific training may not be able to characterize waste unless trained to do that task. The Site Safety Supervisor or Officer should be consulted and a competent industrial hygienist or other technically qualified person who is HAZWOPER trained.
Back to the basics
There is a continuing movement of change in all aspects of human endeavours. This is true of Mechanical, Chemical and Electrical Engineering, all of which may have an impact on the oil spill response community.
Organisations involved with response strategies should be ready for developments in equipment or material. As new devices and substances become available, the methods of clean up and the strategies which may be selected will be affected.
It is important that all response teams are kept aware of any developments so that they will be equipped to use them and take best advantage when they become available. Inevitably, the logistics will dictate what is available and where and a newly developed piece of equipment is likely to be met by an operator for the first time in a clean up situation. It is far better if operators can be trained in the use of equipment before having to use it operationally.
As with all industries people come and go so there is a need for continuous training. This type of training can be expensive, when you have to hire supply vessels at thousands of dollars per day, unfortunately it does not happen regularly. In many cases the people that had the opportunity leave and the replacement people learn how to use the equipment when the oil spill occurs. This is when equipment gets damaged due to the inexperience of both the response team and the ships crews.
Theoretical training should be done by experienced people, over the years many course delegates have said that the anecdotes help greatly with a better understanding of a subject. Anecdotes are only gained with real life experience.
Many people unfortunately go on courses to sit and listen rather than get involved, usually because they do not want to be seen to make mistakes. This is also a cultural thing in various countries, i.e. in the Far east when you ask if there are any question no one say's a thing but during the coffee break you get inundated with private questions, the trainer needs to be aware of it.
The instructors job is to get as much information across to the student both theoretical and practical and make as much as possible stay in their heads. The problem is clearly seen below.
An old collegue who has an oil spill consulting company uses this excellent phrase (Tell me I'll forget, Show me I'll remember, Involve me I'll understand) this means the use of both theoretical and practical exercise during training courses.
The photo left shows how some people train how to operate incorrectly in the future. Oil is simulated with a type of popcorn.
Photo right the egmopol is in the oil where it is thinnest, increasing the amount of gases the crew will breath, increasing the contamination to the equipment and increasing the difficulty of maneuvering the vessel.
When told that they are working incorrectly the answer is usually Hey its only training!
Training done correctly prepares you to do it right in the future, or not as in this case.
The British Army has an adage known as the 7p's this stands for Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance, it is meant to be to the point. It holds as true today as it did when it was invented during WW2.
When done correctly as in the photo right the recovery vessel is positioned on the outside of the boom the skimmer enters the oil over the boom where the oil is thickest.
Left is a class which if it is teaching how not to position a boom it is doing an excellent job, the recovery point is now in the apex 6 to 8 meters from the bank where the students are.
This can also be seen by the current on the outside of the boom which would remove any collected oil.
The photo right was taken during a training exercise for an offshore drilling rig incident unfortunately the current was 2.5 knots. Trying to fight the current will cause damage to the equipment. Drifting with the current is the only option to keep and recover oil from the apex of the boom.
This is not as easy as it would seem with big vessels and so regular training with all crews has to be done to be able to respond should it be necessary.
The importance of training has been said but it should not be forgotten that people join and leave our community and that important information is gained and lost with them. In many cases opportunities to train with equipment especially offshore may be rare due mainly to cost.
In many cases new equipment is demonstrated and then may be stored for many years without being deployed again. The people involved in the first deployment may not be around when the need to use the equipment arises. There are a lot of useful tips that are only found out during a deployment.
I know of millions of dollars worth of equipment in various bases where practical exercises were done 10 years ago and not since. In most of these bases there is practically no one who was present at the deployment. They have all left. Stupid things like the need to make a turn in the skinny tube (inflation hose before the deployment or the boom will not inflate properly have been forgotten or was never known.
Elastec American Marine Hydro Fire Boom
It is very important that when equipment is deployed that a written record is kept as in the case below. Photographs may explain various things much better than words.
2 x Boom Reel complete with 500’ of boom
2 x Water Pumps
x Reel Cheek Sections *
7 x 100’’ Fire Hose *
2 x Lifting Strops *
1 x 50’ Fire Hose *
4 x Shackles *
3 x 25’ Fire Hose *
2 x Tow Bridle *
1 x Storrs Plug *
1 x Spare Tow End *
8 x Floats *
2 x 350’ 1” Tow Line *
20 x Hand Held Ignitors *
4 x Inflation Hoses *
1 x 110v Hot Air Gun *
1 x Spare Air Bladder Right *
1 x Silicone Roller *
1 x Spare Air Bladder Left *
1 x Roll Repair Fabric *
1 x Tool Box *
1 x Power Pack
4 x Hose Clamps *
1 x Instructions *
* Inside Box
2 x Manuals *
It has been suggested that the pumps require a stillage to protect them offshore, this could also house the hoses for each pump, a similar cage for the power pack would house the rest thus there would only be 4 lifts.
To confuse the issue there are 3 different systems in country, 14x17, 15x19 & 18x20 the numbers should be painted on the reels.
Because of the difference in skirt lengths the fire hoses cannot be joined if booms are mixed i.e. 14x17 to 15x19
During flushing and drying
From a historical point of view, here are copies of the letters of acceptance from the start of the UK accreditation scheme. Below these is the Malaysian answer to the OPRC training