The Importance of International Cooperation and Learning from Previous Incidents in Ice-Covered Waters

15 May, 2015

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These were the key themes during the latest session of filming which took ITOPF and the True North production team back to Svalbard. The contrast in just three months since the previous visit from darkness at midday to 24 hour sunlight could not have been more stark.

The input from two leading members of the Norwegian Coastal Authority (NCA) - Kystverket provided the focus for the filming. Ole Kristian Bjerkemo, Chair of the Emergency Prevention, Planning and Preparedness (EPPR) working group of the Arctic Council, emphasised the central role that bilateral and multilateral agreements play in all aspects of prevention and preparedness. His personal experience of the value of these agreements in joint exercises and sharing of information over the last 20 years will be a key theme for the film.

Then in a biting Arctic wind entirely appropriate to the setting, Trond Hjort-Larsen talked through his experience and the lessons he had learnt from dealing with the GODAFOSS spill in February 2011 when the waters were partially covered in ice and a response had to be mounted during the short winter daylight hours. He was able to paint a picture of the additional challenges in terms of oil characteristics and stresses on equipment when dealing with a spill during these harsh winter conditions. His illustrations of the ways in which responders need to adapt existing spill response approaches used in more temperate waters will provide ideal material for those with a role to prepare for a potential spill in ice covered waters.

The backdrops under the winter twilight were impressive at the end of January. Now under 24 hours of daylight the adjacent images illustrate some of the scenery that will be bringing the oil-in-ice film to life.

The film is scheduled for release in Spring 2016, but in the meantime we have released a trailer of the spectacular footage from the earlier shoot in Svalbard just as the Polar night was coming to a close. The two minute clip gives a flavour of what will be a visual treat as well as a succinct review of prevention, preparedness and response in ice-covered waters.

You can also follow the progress of the project on Twitter.

Categories: Arctic policy, Training & Education

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