Authorities to run oil spill drill in Onslow
A simulated oil spill disaster is set to hit Onslow for the next two days as Government staff and Pilbara authorities descend on the town to take part in a Department of Transportrun training exercise.
The two-day drill, named Exercise Beadon, will involve about 55 representatives from the DoT, Department of Parks and Wildlife, Pilbara Ports Authority, Onslow Salt and the Shire of Ashburton responding to a mock oil spill from a bulk carrier in Beadon Creek Boat Harbour after an onboard fire causes it to run aground on Ward Reef.
Eight strike teams will use specialised equipment to skim oil from the water, assess shoreline impact, decontaminate people and wildlife, and protect Onslow Salt sites, as well as holding an emergency community meeting and media doorstops.
DoT marine safety general manager Ray Buchholz said with thousands of ship movements around the WA coast each week, it was important to make sure authorities could deal with oil spills and other emergency transport situations. “There will be about 1200 tonnes of bunker oil involved, and in a real situation that ship running aground and breaking up on a reef . . . would have an enormous impact,” he said.
“A real incident would probably take three to six months to adequately respond to. We’re trying to simulate that as much as possible.”
The DoT runs an oil spill training exercise at a WA port about once a year to improve local knowledge, skills and familiarity with equipment. The last one in the Pilbara was held in Dampier in 2012.
Mr Buchholz said Onslow was well prepared for oil spills but provided a good location for testing preparations in more remote parts of WA.
“This is a further opportunity for responders based in Onslow and the wider Pilbara region to gain hands-on experience and boost local readiness,” he said.
Members of the public can see preparations for the drill at Beadon Creek on Thursday at 10am.
The harbour may be temporarily restricted during the two-day operation and a DoT spokeswoman asked people on the water to keep clear of activities as part of the exercise.