ABP’s Annual Oil Spill Exercise on the Humber

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Above: ABP along with other agencies at the annual oil spill exercise.

The Port of Hull was the location of ABP’s annual oil spill exercise on the Humber. The Incident Management Team (IMT) took part in a fast-paced Incident Management Exercise to test the existing Oil Spill Contingency Plan. This training opportunity was facilitated by Adler and Allan and tested all aspects of the plan from strategy and resources to other matters such business continuity, public health and environmental concerns.

‘Exercise Rotra’ presented an oil spill scenario in which a visiting cargo vessel had accidentally released 5,000 litres of Marine Gas Oil, due to a ruptured fuel tank, into Alexandra Dock with an estimated 300 litres spilt into the Humber. To note, this was a fictional scenario used by the team and was not based on any actual incidents at the port.

In the first instance, the ABP Tier 1 teams tackled the spill with a work boat and oil spill equipment which consists of absorbent pads, booms, and waste collection containers. Once Adler and Allan’s Marine Response service arrived onto the port, they deployed inflatable booms that created a temporary floating barrier in the water, as directed by Grant Fotheringham, acting as Incident Commander, and Wayne Jenkins, acting as On-Scene Commander.

Left: Inflation of Tier 2 boom and strategy discussions between the response teams

As the majority of simulated pollutant was in the lock pit, there was a focus to create secondary containment around the lock gates before mobilising an ADR regulated vacuum tanker and skimmer system to skim and recover the oil.

Left: Deployment of Tier 2 inflation boom

For the first time in such an exercise, the Humber Marine Control Centre at Grimsby was used. Led by Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) Manager Stewart Taylor, the VTS simulated real time river control throughout the exercise, using their state-of-the-art VTS simulator.

Stakeholders from the port were present including UM Storage, Siemens Gamesa and the Police. A full notification exercise was carried out by ABP including organisations such as the Local Authority, Environment Agency and the MCA. As part of the UK National Standards for Marine Oil Spill Response Organisations (OSRO’s), the accrediting body must observe a practical deployment exercise reflecting the OSRO’s Capability Statement.

This was carried out by Captain Bill Boyle from the International Spill Accreditation Scheme who assessed that Adler and Allan can ‘apply the equipment, techniques and strategies appropriate to the scenario in question within agreed timeframes, that personnel have the required level of knowledge, skill and professionalism and that the deployment is managed through effective command and control structures, good communication and demonstration of good health and safety practices’.

David Bray, Adler and Allan’s Marine Consultancy Manager who assessed the exercise commended the team: “The staff at ABP undertake regular training and practical drills; this is clear to see from the demonstrated quick and effective deployments, and support they provide to our Tier 2 response teams. The weather conditions were challenging on the day with strong winds but after a dynamic risk assessment, the deployment turned out to be very effective and a notable strategy if a similar situation presents itself. ABP’s Port of Hull has a well-versed response team from the higher command level down to the ground, backed up by significant resources throughout the group. Adler and Allan conduct 25-30 Incident Management Exercises every year and the Port of Hull team proved to be one of the best at understanding their roles and responsibilities.”

Head of Marine for ABP’s Humber ports, Gary Wilson, said: “The exercise response was timely and well addressed by the whole team who mobilised to site within the response requirements. These exercises are incredibly valuable to our operation and the Humber.”