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Oilex 2011 tests oil spill responses (with photos)

     A joint annual anti-oil pollution exercise, codenamed Oilex 2011, was held this morning (November 15) off Tai Wan To, Lamma Island, to test responses in combating oil pollution in Hong Kong waters.

     Under the Maritime Oil Spill Response Plan, the Marine Department co-ordinated the exercise, in which other government departments including the Auxiliary Medical Service, Civil Aid Service, Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, Government Flying Service and Hong Kong Police Force as well as oil companies took part.

     During the exercise, response groups contained a mock oil spill from a beached product tanker carrying 5,200 tonnes of fuel oil which posed threats to the cooling water intakes of Lamma Power Station, Hung Shing Yeh and Lo So Shing beaches, and Sham Wan in the south of Lamma Island, which is a nesting site for Green Turtles.

     In the wake of the "spillage", the oil combat teams set up a ring of floating barrier booms around the tanker while the shipowner's salvage teams plugged an underwater gash of the tanker. A second defence line of barrier booms was also rigged on the power station's cooling water intakes and on the shorelines near the stranded tanker. A technique for herding oil spills was also demonstrated using water hoses and oil skimmers to form a proactive shoreline defence. Manual absorption mopping on the beach, rock-washing with pressurised spray guns, application of oil dispersant from launches on the sea surface and helicopters on the outskirts of the spill, as well as recovery of booms and equipment were also practised.

     Apart from today's on-scene exercise, a simulation covering crisis management and communications was completed last week by relevant government departments to refresh common understanding of the incident command system during a major spill.

     The Marine Department's Maritime Oil Spill Response Plan aims to ensure a timely and effective response to oil spills in Hong Kong waters. In addition, the Department has signed a co-operation agreement with the maritime authorities of Guangdong, Macao and Shenzhen to adopt the Regional Maritime Oil Spill from Ship Response Plan for the Pearl River Estuary as the action guide for regional co-operation in response to major oil spills from ships.

Ends/Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Issued at HKT 15:05


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