Testing processes to protect the Humber Estuary

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The team involved in the Humber Oil Spill Management Exercise (HUMEX)

Associated British Ports (ABP), in partnership with cross sector stakeholders, successfully completed its annual Humber Oil Spill Incident Management Exercise (HUMEX) during November.

The exercise works to test the processes involved in managing an oil spill within the Humber. ABP is the Statutory and Competent Harbour Authority for the Humber Estuary and is responsible for ensuring the safety of marine operations within the ports and estuary. As part of its duty of care to the Humber, each year ABP Humber conduct an Incident Management Exercise to test the Oil Spill Contingency Plan “Humber Clean”.

The oil spill scenario was simulated on the release of approximately 5mt of DERV, east of the Immingham Oil Terminal, due to the rupture of an 80k litre road tanker at an adjacent site which entered the Estuary via the North Beck Drain. As in previous years, this was a fictional scenario used by the team and was not based on any actual incidents at the port.

Marine Response Centre team leaders worked on individual responsibilities to move through the exercise, testing the many processes in place to ensure a quick containment and management of the scenario.

As a first response to any notification of an oil spill, ABP Tier 1 teams can be deployed to tackle the spill. Adler and Allan operate as Tier 2 contractors for ABP, and upon their arrival would support the incident management team with containment and clear-up operations.

This training opportunity enabled ABP’s Marine Response Centre located at Grimsby Port Office to test many aspects of incident management including communications, ‘Send Word Now’ for cascaded alerts, and on this occasion, a limited management structure within the OSCP plan.

A full communications check was completed by ABP with organisations such as the Humber Emergency Planning Services, Environment Agency and the MCA and a live test spraying was conducted by the Pilot Launch Humber Venus to ensure that we fulfil our responsibilities within MCA guidelines.

Paul Bristowe, Head of Marine for ABP’s Humber ports, said: “HUMEX provides an ideal opportunity to test the team and processes to ensure we have a safe and effective oil spill response at high readiness on the Humber.

The Humber Estuary is an important place and holds many designations for the habitats and wildlife, both resident and migratory, that can be found here. It’s also a busy industrial area. The exercise is a vital piece of protection to ensure that any incident can be dealt with safely and quickly to prevent damage to the environment.”