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Offshore response

Co-ordination

Oil contained at sea
Oil contained at sea

The entire response effort was co-ordinated by the JRC (Joint Response Centre) ashore and by the MPCU (Marine Pollution Control Unit) at sea. The JRC worked together with the Dyfed County Council and the Milford Haven Port Authority. Overall responsibility was entrusted to one person and Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL) was tasked with stationing shore response equipment in Milford Haven. The JRC was managed by a Steering Committee made up of local authorities (counties and Milford Harbour) and national authorities (MPCU) in addition to other members such as Texaco reps and ITOPF officials (International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation).
The JRC Operations Room in Milford Haven had communication equipment and fact sheets that were updated as the response went along. A number of standalone units (maritime, technical, environmental, logistics, press) were stationed there at one point or another. Up until the end of February, two separate working groups were based at the JRC-OR, the SCU (Salvage Control Unit) and the CPR (Counter Pollution and Response Unit). All offers of assistance were processed by the MPCU HQ in Southampton.

Offshore response

Two response strategies were used: airborne dispersant spraying, seaborne containment and recovery. Seven MPCU DC-3s were expedited to the area by Atlantique Air Transport (capacity: 5 cu.m. of dispersant) and a Hercules C-130 belonging to OSRL fitted with an ADDS dispersant spraying system (capacity: 17 cu.m. of dispersant). These aircraft sprayed dispersants from day 2 onwards and MPCU’s core objective was to spray fresh oil as close to the wreck as possible.

Aerial dispersant spraying
Aerial dispersant spraying

he areas to be treated were defined and supervised from MPCU remote sensing aircraft. Airborne spraying was conducted one nautical mile offshore outside the Bay during ebb tide. Dispersant spraying was discontinued on the 23rd February for reasons of efficacy and also because most of the oil had beached in the meantime. Dispersants seem to have been effective as samples taken by AEA Technology have since shown that the oil was dispersing in the water column (10 ppm immediately after the dispersant was sprayed and 1 ppm one hour later).

All told, about 445 tonnes of dispersant were used during the period. Dasic NS, Dasic LTSW and Finasol OSR52 were mainly used on fresh oil. Attempts were made at dispersing the bunker fuel with Corexit 9500. Alongside the core dispersant spraying assignments, MPCU used up all its stock of Shell LA 1834 emulsion breaker, namely about 150 tonnes.

 

The Sea Sweep
The Sea Sweep

 

Coastal oil recovery was commenced as soon as the 15th and involved two specialised vessels, the Sea Mop and the Sea Sweep (capacity : 40 cu.m. each) and both were fitted with an oleophilic rope skimmer.
On the 20th, the Forth Explorer (capacity 600 cu.m.) with a Foxtail system and the Self Supporter (capacity: 1 200 cu.m.) with a Marflex Arms system and a Vikoma Sea Skimmer reached the area.

On the 21st, the French Navy assigned two vessels to the operation, the Ailette with a Transrec 250 skimmer system (400 cu. m. capacity) and the Elan a supply vessel that was used for boom deployment and containment.
On the 23rd, two other skimmer vessels arrived on the scene, namely the Small Agt (capacity : 600 cu.m.) and the Rijn Delta (capacity: 3 400 cu.m.) sent by the Dutch Authorities. Shoreline skimming was conducted by two barges fitted with a Roskim skimmer system (capacity : 100 cu.m.) and an Egmopol barge with a capacity of 15 cu.m.

 

The Rijn Delta and the Elan
The Rijn Delta and the Elan

 

Two small fishing boats were used to contain the oil in coastal waters and then trawl it out to sea for recovery. A while later on the 4th March two more Egmopol barges arrived from France.
All in all, 8,500 tonnes of emulsion were recovered at sea containing 4,000 tonnes of oil, in the frame of an unprecedented international collaboration.

Last update: 17/07/2003