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"All hazards approach" in action
At the end of May, Bass Coast Group Officer Damien O'Connor, Operations Manager John Maguire and Operations Officer Brian Brady attended an intense 5 day course at the Australian Emergency Management Institute at Mount Macedon to participate in the Marine Oil Spill Response IMT course conducted by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).
The course consisted of about 30 participants from Police, wildlife carers, marine harbour masters and Pilots, EPA and other parties that would find themselves part of a marine oil spill response.
The CFA's involvement in such an incident would be to provide IMT personnel as well as personnel and equipment to support the shoreline clean up operation which can be very physically demanding, remote and protracted. The response to a spill is vastly different to the usual fire service response as there are many organisations who have an interest, and a say, on how the response will be conducted. Ship owners, insurers, oil companies, Federal, State and Local Government departments, wildlife carers are just some of those who will want or need to be involved.
The cost of the response and recovery of a marine oil spill is immense and carefully controlled by many of the parties involved and dictates the level of response and what equipment and personnel will be committed to it.
The amount of coastline along southern Victoria and its busy shipping lanes along with the ports of Geelong, Western Port and Portland will inevitably result in a marine oil spill whether accidental or deliberate in the future and CFA will most likely have a role to play.
A follow up multi agency practical day was held on July 16 at Williamstown to demonstrate the equipment involved in the clean up. It was ironic that we were there to learn about the equipment used to protect marine life from harm with the three Sea Shepherd vessels who do the same thing berthed nearby including the well known "Steve Irwin". Two very different methods of protecting marine life within close proximity to each other. Ours methods of doing so were not quite as dramatic!!
A good reference to see the complexities of a marine Oil Spill Response can be found on the AMSA website and search “Iron Baron” which was an oil spill that occurred after the ship ran aground on a reef in Bass Strait in strong winds on its way to Launceston