The exercise is a joint project between the Nordic countries and co-funded by the European Union. It is being organised by the Norwegian Coastal Administration and will involve over 300 personnel and 30 vessels. It will be one of the largest exercises of its kind in European history.
An increasing level of shipping traffic has led to a growing fear of accidents and an adverse risk picture. The accident involving M/V Full City in July 2009 on the coast of Langesund illustrated the crucial need for preparedness in dealing with accidents across national borders. To meet this aim, the Nordic countries will arrange a joint oil and chemical protection exercise 25-29th September in Langesund. Code-named SCOPE 2017, the project is being organised by the Norwegian Coastal Administration on behalf of the European Commission.
“International cooperation is a key factor to protect and minimise impacts of major accidents and spills. In an effort to ensure that all parties know what to do when an accident happens, it’s vitally important to conduct joint spill exercises in advance, both locally, nationally and internationally. This enables us to test and improve our response strategies and technologies for use in different scenarios and this particular exercise is unique in size, scope and international participation,” says Stig Wahlstrøm, Project Manager for SCOPE 2017.
SCOPE 2017 (Skagerrak Chemical Oilspill Pollution Exercise) is a full-scale exercise where all participants will face realistic challenges as a result of a simulated collision between a chemical tanker and an oil tanker. This includes such areas as oil and gas spill response at sea and on land, combating chemical pollution, crisis management, handling of damaged vessels, and evacuation and place of refuge. Representatives from over 70 countries will be invited to observe the exercise.
Final preparation talks
The exercise has been in the making for several years, and the final preparation details were concluded when the participants met for a three-day meeting in Langesund 30th May. Representatives of the EU and all participating organisations were present.
“If an accident occurs, for example, on the coast of Telemark, our neighboring country can quickly be affected, so for this reason the EU provides support. The SCOPE 2017 project shall also strengthen collaboration between the regional readiness services, and make the best possible use of resources, services and guidelines offered through the EU. Also, we cooperate closely with the Swedish Coast Guard, the Royal Danish Navy and the Environmental Directorate in Iceland,” adds Wahlstrøm.
Testing international preparedness
The Norwegian Coastal Administration has project responsibility for the exercise, and the South-East Police District, Norway and the Intermunicipal Emergency Response Organisation (IUA) in Telemark are also national partners. All participating organizations have an unique opportunity to train in leadership and collaboration, during the simulation of a serious vessel accident.
“Norway is a partner in the international work and cooperation for protecting the marine environment through several international agreements. Norway’s commitment in these agreements are administered by the Norwegian Coastal Administration and, in the case of an acute pollution, we are responsible for coordinating national preparedness so that environmental impacts are minimised,” explains Wahlstrøm and emphasises, “Good coordination across neighboring countries and various organisations is essential to respond swiftly and capably. SCOPE 2017 is a good opportunity for us all to test and improve our strategies and practices to raise the overall level of safety in our waters.”
Facts and Figures on SCOPE2017:
- Four Nordic countries, in addition to the EU, will participate in the exercise.
List of participating organisations: Norwegian Coastal Administration, Iceland’s Environmental Directorate, Swedish Coast Guard, Royal Danish Navy, South-East Police District, IUA Telemark, County Governor of Telemark, Civil Defence in Telemark, Coast Guard, Rescue Company, Bergen Fire Brigade, Oslo Fire and Rescue, DSB, Grenland Harbour , Directorate of the Environment, Maritime Directorate, Government Accident Investigation Board, Southeastern University College, NOFO, EMSA, EU, ITOPF, IOPC.
- About 300 personnel will be involved.
- Representatives from over 70 countries will be invited to observe the exercise.
- 30 vessels will be used in the exercise, in addition to 2 surveillance aircraft and a helicopter.
The goal of SCOPE 2017:
The exercise shall contribute to improved national and international coordination in response to vessel accidents involving hazardous and polluting cargoes. The exercise will also strengthen cooperation between the signatories to the Copenhagen Agreement, the Bonn- Agreement and with the EU to ensure the best use of resources, services and guidelines provided by the EU.