Au­thor­i­ties to run oil spill drill in Onslow

Pilbara News - - News - Ali­cia Per­era

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.

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