In recognition of the challenges posed to regional and local governments, and their assisting organisations, by pollution from shipping incidents, the EROCIPS Partnership has developed a project, with European Partners in France, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and UK, to provide a timely response to coastal oil, chemical and inert pollution.
The Atlantic Area of the European Union has been the scene of a number of well-known shipping accidents over the last thirty years. These include the Amoco Cadiz, Betelgeuse, Aegean Sea, Sea Empress, Erika and Prestige. Each incident has demonstrated the strain that can be placed on regional and local government resources and management structures as responders attempt to limit the impact caused by the pollution on the shoreline assets of a coastal area. Although damaging, each of these events has also provided those involved with experience of how to deal with an incident. A number of Atlantic Area regional and local governments, together with their assisting organisations, are now well placed to build on this shoreline response experience.
The goal of the project is the formulation of a transferable methodology that communicates relevant information to responders and decision-makers involved in shoreline counter pollution operations following a shipping incident.
The shoreline response to oil, chemical and inert pollution from shipping accidents represents one of the greatest resource and management challenges likely to be faced by regional and local governments and assisting organisations (statutory agencies, academic institutions, non-governmental groups, representative organisations, etc.) involved in the spatial planning for sustainable use of coastal assets.
Pollutants pose a direct threat to coastal assets such as conservation sites, recreational beaches, shellfish beds, marinas/ harbours and wildlife. The indirect consequences of a pollution incident can be equally damaging with the loss of tourism confidence and income from fisheries undermining the economy of the polluted coastThe response
In order to meet the challenge, responding organisations have a structured response, usually as part of joint national and local contingency plans. These arrangements are based around:
- Protection of Coastal Assets (estuaries, harbours, aquaculture, etc), usually by booms/ barrages;
- Beach Clean-up;
- Wildlife Response;
- Waste transportation, and;
- Temporary Waste Storage.
Underlining all these activities is the need to ensure the safety of those carrying out the shoreline response and the public. In certain circumstances, toxic or explosion risk for example, there may also be a need for mass evacuation of local communities.
The response can be undermined by the use of inappropriate techniques, insufficient resources and inadequate capacity in management structures. The key to ensure that a response is effective is the provision of up to date information to responders via a focused management structure; the EROCIPS project provides this information.
The Emergency Response to Coastal Oil, Chemical and Inert Pollution from Shipping Project (EROCIPS) consists of a series of work packages designed to provide shoreline responders with the necessary information to ensure a targeted counter pollution response. The intention is to provide a procedure that can be applied elsewhere in the coastal regions of Europe.
The aim of the EROCIPS project is the ‘development of common, transnational methodologies, tools and techniques for dealing with the shoreline response to coastal pollution incidents, transferable across the EU, in order to support the sustainability of sea transport systems’.
In order to achieve this, regional and local governments need to share an understanding of the many socio economic and environmental factors that contribute to achieving an effective response. This includes both understanding the baseline situation along coastlines and what tools and techniques can be effectively applied in different situations and environments. It is also about effective integration of response information into other spatial planning areas so that there is co-ordinated response action and understanding of coastal pollution incidents and their shoreline effects. EROCIPS has set out four objectives, to encompass these requirements and contribute towards achieving its overall aim:
- to develop common tools and techniques for identifying the baseline position and categorising issues of risk and sensitivity on coastlines;
- to develop common tools and methods for identifying all information needed to plan effectively for a shoreline response to coastal pollution incidents;
- to develop common guidance, standards and protocols for dealing with coastal pollution incidents, transferable across European coastal locations, and;
- to link the framework for dealing with coastal pollution incidents with other spatial planning frameworks at the local/regional level to ensure a co-ordinated and effective response.
The EROCIPS project will not undertake statutory duties connected with the production of contingency plans, where stipulated by member nations. The purpose of the project is to provide added value to the shoreline response by providing regional and local governments with information to aid their response structure in the event of a shipping pollution incident.
Measure B-1 calls for the development of efficient and sustainable transport systems. EROCIPS directly addresses this issue. The sustainable development of both international and short sea shipping within the Atlantic Area region requires that there is an effective capability to deal with maritime pollution incidents of all types and sizes in order to protect onshore economic, environmental and social resources. EROCIPS will result in the ability for Regional and Local Government and their supporting organisations to provide a quick, efficient and effective on land response because they have the right tools, protocols, methods, procedures and information to use in planning and delivering this.