An increase in incidents involving chemical spills, previous incidents and an increased maritime traffic forms the backdrop for the largest oil and chemical pollution exercise ever held in Norway.
The Norwegian Coastal Administration will be the lead responsible for the exercise, which will take place in the Skagerrak and off the Coast of Telemark County, operating out of Langesund, Norway, in September 2017.
“This exercise will improve our preparedness to meet the increased amount of vessels carrying chemical cargo in Skagerrak and the Oslofjord,” says project manager in the Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA), Stig Wahlstrøm.
Testing international preparedness
The Exercise is co-funded by the EU and named «The Skagerrak Chemical Oil Spill Exercise (SCOPE) 2017». Recently, the NCA project manager, Stig Wahlstrøm, and a delegation of representatives from the Norwegian Costal Administration, The Inter-Municipal Committee Against Acute Pollution (IUA) in Telemark, the Swedish Coast Guard, the Danish Defence Command and The Environment Agency of Iceland attended a kick-off for the exercise in Brussels, Belgium. Together with South East Police District, these are all project partners for the exercises.
“This is a national coordination exercise where we both train with other Norwegian emergency response agencieseparedness mandates, and aim to strengthen international coordination in case of emergency incidents,” the project manager for SCOPE 2017 says.
National actors include the Fire Department, Police, Coast Guard, County Governor and others. The Inter-Municipal Committee Against Acute Pollution (IUA) will also have a central role. International agreements, of which Norway is part, will be used to mobilise assistance from a neighbouring countries and the European Union . (See fact box on agreements and emergency preparedness resources).
“In addition to Norway, Denmark and Sweden will test their cooperative efforts during an incident, especially relating to the use of equipment and crew. It will be an opportunity to strengthen knowledge and networks for all parties involved. The EU also has the opportunity to test mobilization of its Emergency Response teams (EUCP) for marine pollution emergencies, Wahlstrøm explains.
Great pollution potential
Jan Kristoffersen at IUA Telemark views the exercise as highly important for the region, which he represents.
“Telemark has been identified as Norway’s most high risk region when it comes to acute pollution. We have extensive on-shore businesses with connecting seagoing transport of polluting goods, which holds great potential for large polluting incidents, Kristoffersen says.
The unique coastline and diversity in nature stress the importance of emergency preparedness against acute pollution for local communities. With the clean-up after the groundings of “Full City” and “Godafoss” fresh in memory, and the awareness of the risk traffic going in and out of the Oslo fjord, this is a very important issue for Telemark.
“SCOPE2017 enables us to test our capabilities and interaction with other emergency preparedness actors from Norway and our neighbouring countries. We especially look forward to testing our chemical diver preparedness, and the implementation of shoreline clean-up operations and organizing efforts,”Kristoffersen says.
Residents in Langesund will notice more inflow of personnel and international observers in connection to the exercise and vessel activities at sea.
Together in Brussel (from the left) Örjan Martinsson (The Swedish Coast Guard) Ole Kristian Bjerkemo (NCA) Stig Wahlstrøm (NCA) Sigríður Kristinsdóttir (The Environment Agency Island) Torben Holmgaard (The Royal Danish Navy) Jan Kristoffersen (Intermunicipal Emergency Response Organisation (IUA) in Telemark).
Parties represented in the exercise:
- The Norwegian Coastal Administration
- Norwegian Coast Guard
- Norwegian Civil Defence
- Intermunicipal Emergency Response Organisation (IUA) in Telemark
- South-East Police district Norway
- The Swedish Coast Guard
- The Royal Danish Navy
- The Environment Agency Island
- European Union
- European Observers
- Other national and local participants
Involved parties in the seagoing and on-shore exercise is estimated to include 150-200 persons, in addition to EU observers and specially invited guests.
Planned vessels in the exercise: 15-20 (from the Norwegian Coastal Administration, the Norwegian Coast Guard, the Danish Defense Command, the Swedish Coast Guard and others).