As the 3-year OIL SPILL Project is turning to the last phase, the Lithuanian Red Cross proudly states that this Project enhanced not only its understanding of and preparedness to oil spill disasters but also its overall disaster preparedness and national visibility as a potential partner in the disaster response. The participation in OIL SPILL connected the Lithuanian Red Cross with national institutions, such as the Fire and Rescue Department in Klaipėda, as well as the international partners in the Baltic Region.
I was recently following a presentation about a massive oil spill response operation taking place in the Gulf of Mexico. The importance of cooperation was emphasized in this talk. Similarly, the OIL SPILL Project has focused on the importance of good collaboration between various actors related to the oil spill response. For us at Neste, the Sandö port of refuge tabletop exercise last spring was the most beneficial. Neste operates in a high-hazard environment where safety has strategic importance. We want to excel in risk management – and if an incident still happens, the most efficient measures should be in place.
The benefits the Southwest Finland Emergency Services (SWFES) has received while working in the OIL SPILL Project are diverse. One of the biggest is the better cooperation and coordination between the third sector volunteers and authorities in Finland. During the workshops and the Vellamo exercise, we learned a lot from each other. It is important to know how the different organizations work and then find common ground in our joint task. Another example of the highlights is that SWFES was able to exercise in the training pool of XAMK, South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences, in Kotka. Via this exercise, we received a lot of new knowledge concerning oil spill response work, and we were able to test different kind of equipment in real life with authentic oil. Without external funding, it is difficult to organize this kind of training.
During the OIL SPILL Project, the operational collaboration between WWF Latvia, Coast Guard, Fire Service, and seaports has strenghtened. This has resulted in close cooperation, several practical exercises, material support, and enhanced networks. For instance, various stakeholders were included in the Coast Guard exercises, which is excellent.
We face the same challenges as everyone else in the Baltic Sea archipelago. The protection and decontamination of a large and topographically varied area is demanding, both initially but also over a long period of time. Moreover, several authorities with different jurisdictions are responsible for different parts and different phases of environmental protection in oil spill response. There is often a need for a lot of material, equipment and personnel that are not available locally. These challenges are solved through the greater coordination of national resources, but also within the Nordic countries.
When an oil spill hits the coast of Denmark, the respective municipality is responsible for the clean-up. However, most municipalities have given the task to the local fire department, as they are always on-call and able to respond within minutes. Many fire brigades cooperate with volunteer firefighters who typically assist on longer operations, with everything from firefighting to logistics and catering. In a new survey, we have investigated the volunteers’ participation in oil spill response on shores and shallow waters.
Although TalTech Estonian Maritime Academy as a maritime education and training institution is focusing on educating future navigators, ship engineers and shore personnel, we are also contributing in the training of coast and border guards. Besides conventional further training courses in the maritime, we also provide training courses for search mission coordinators (SMC) and on-scene coordinators (OSC) aimed for the staff of national Rescue Coordination Centres and deck officers of vessels taking part in national SAR activities. As the focus of these courses is in the practical application of knowledge via teamwork using case studies and exercises, the maritime simulators play quite an extensive role.
This month we should have held an oil spill conference and exercise at the island Fanoe in Denmark. Due to the corona situation, it has been postponed to the autumn (23rd to 25th September), so we continue our preparations. At the event, we will gather Danish rescue authorities and other interested stakeholders. Hopefully, we can also welcome our partners in the OIL SPILL project as travel restrictions are removed in the Baltic Sea countries.
In response to a request from the Environmental Protection Department of Lithuania’s Ministry of the Environment, the European Maritime Safety Administration (EMSA) …
My name is Sebastian Henriksson. I am a firefighter, and this spring, I joined the OIL SPILL project as part of the …