Best Safety Moment Awards Entry: Poole Harbour Commissioners(1)

Award Nomination:

Combined response to dealing with an oil spill in Poole Harbour.

On the 26th of March 2023 we were informed that their had been a release of oil into Poole Harbour from the Perenco oil pipeline on Ower Bay which is on the southside of the harbour.

It was later confirmed to be 200 barrels of oily waste which had entered the water due to a pipeline failure.

This then was the start of a combined response to dealing with the spill in a sight with multiple environmental accreditations and therefore problems managing all interested parties’ expectations.

Additional Information

Poole Harbour Commissioners as the statutory port authority, are required to have in place a plan to deal with any pollution incidents in Poole it is known as Pool Spill this is a plan which has been in place for many years and has been rehearsed and practised yearly (It paid off).

There are 3 specific areas worth noting for dealing with this incident:

  1. Incident Command
  2. Digital Support Tools
  3. Response and remediation
  1. All incidents need to be dealt with efficiently and an essential part of this is the decision-making process for this to happen effectively you need the right people with the competencies to take command and control, making timely decisions this incident was no exception. There was a lot of media interest, and the spill was raised within the House of Parliament. We worked closely with not only the MCA but also all our local partners through the LRF and this incident was declared as a Major incident under the CCA 2004.We also faced challenges from the use of private drones which caused a few issues, the biggest challenge with this was deconflicting as we had the use of drones from our tier 2 responders the Police and SFICA we also had regular helicopter flights and fixed wing flights from the MCA, it became clear that this all needed to be controlled in order to avoid an incident so a NOTAM was applied for and granted the CAA were very helpful and provided guidance and supported the request. It is worth noting if you have a NOTAM in place you need to have a 24/7 telephone contact this is essential.
  2. We worked closely with our Tier 2 response support team Adler and Allen (A&A) and the Perenco Tier 2 response team Oil Spill Response Ltd (OSRL) they use a digital mapping tool which fully documents all areas visited the level of pollution and what remediation action that is required and further records the actions taken and where the pollutant was taken to and how it was dealt with. This also includes any action taken to deal with wildlife impacted by the spill.
  3. Response and remediation was dealt with primarily by A&A and there specialist teams working in close collaboration with all parties.
  4. Response operations consisted of 3 parts Operations, Strategies and Tactics.

Response Operations

P)  Ensure the safety of response personnel, response partners, and vulnerable public throughout the delivery of the response works.

E) Support Poole Harbour Commissioners & Perenco in mitigating the consequential impact of the incident to vulnerable sensitive environmental receptors.

A) Minimise the damage to response equipment and supporting assets deployed.

R) Ensure that all response measures are adequately in place to ensure the reputation of all stakeholders were not negatively impacted.

Response Strategies

Monitor & Evaluate – Shoreline Surveys (SCAT)

Shoreline Response (Containment & Recovery (3 – Phase Decontamination)

  • Source – Site D Wytch Farm
  • Ower Bay
  • Poole Harbour/Islands

Waste Management

  • Principles  of  the  waste  management  hierarchy.  That  being  that  wastes  will  be  separated  and segregated.

Response Tactics

  • Manual Recovery
  • High Volume Low Pressure (HVLP) Flushing Operations
  • Skimming operations (oleophilic – disc, drum, rope-mop)
  • Tankering – Vacuum Tanker / Mini-vac

Lessons Learnt

Agree to Major Incident status where appropriate.

  • Ensure Call Out list has the correct O.O.H numbers
  • Ensure all organisations are giving out same message
  • Ensure Local Authority / Landowners aware of responsibility when sticky    stuff hits the shoreline – Responsibilities in Plan
  • Trained Loggists – Record all decisions
  • Use SCAT with GPS to single point software.
  • Don’t rush – Have a clear strategy
  • Don’t be time pressured by outside authorities – stand your ground
  • Keep MCA updated – Frequent Polreps
  • Keep the press and public informed
  • Welfare! Welfare! Welfare!
  • Daily briefings / debriefings
  • Daily Sitreps
  • Frequent Polreps
  • Arrange Claim Line where appropriate
  • Protect Incident Commander from press
  • Insurance companies / Loss adjusters updated.
  • Use FAQ on website
  • Keep all records in one place (Investigation)
  • Don’t underestimate your Plan – Keep it succinct, useable and well exercised
  • NOTAM – Deconflict airspace

It is a known fact that no plan survives the first contact with the enemy whatever that enemy may be. However, due to a well-rehearsed plan and all parties being familiar with what they should do it went well.

Working closely together made a big difference to the outcome of this incident we all knew each other that makes a big difference, no one came to the table and started pointing fingers we all came to the table with a common aim of dealing with this incident together.

Relationships matter be that internal or external without them it is harder to get things resolved.