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Oil spill response exercise, Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, September 2015
1 October, 2015
ITOPF is continuing to ensure that its Technical Advisers are prepared to attend on site at an incident in the Arctic or other cold and challenging environment. Last week Dr Jessika Fuessel attended an exercise conducted by the Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) in cooperation with local authorities in the world's northernmost settlement, Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard. Five vessels and more than 20 local responders, as well as representatives from the NCA, were involved in at-sea response operations and shoreline protection measures. Equipment, such as Ocean and Harbor Busters, and several skimmers were deployed from POLARSYSSEL, the new response vessel stationed in Spitsbergen, and from a Coast Guard vessel and several smaller local vessels. In addition, more than 200 m of rigid floatation boom was deployed from shore to deflect oil reaching the shoreline.
The realistic setting of the exercise raised awareness of potential issues that could emerge with spills in the Arctic, particularly in relation to the distribution of responsibilities and equipment handling, as well as to environmental factors that play an important role especially in the far north. Regular oil spill response exercises such as these also ensure the availability of well-trained responders familiar with the locally stored equipment.