Twenty high level public officers participated in Level 3 Oil Spill Response Training designed to improve the coordination, management and planning of responses to these events.
Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour Joseph Smith Abbott said the training was valuable for leaders in the public service who have the responsibility to ensure that oil spills within the Territory receive a well-balanced response.
Mr. Smith Abbott said, “Oil spills are unique in that they require us to plan responses that swiftly protect the Territory’s natural resources, safeguard our first responders, and investigate the scene in case there is a need for criminal prosecution, all at the same time.”
Director of Disaster Management Jasen Penn said the executive-level training is for decision makers who must ensure effective and harmonious responses among responders from other Government agencies, as well as international partners, non-governmental organisations, and the private sector. He said it also helps the Territory achieve compliance with the International Maritime Organisation’s International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation (OPRC).
Mr. Penn added that the training complements the 2021 revision of the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan.
“As technology and best practises change, it’s imperative for us as a Territory to improve our capacity to respond to incidents as well,” the Director said.
Officers from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour, Royal Virgin Islands Police, Virgin Islands Shipping Registry, BVI Ports Authority, Virgin Islands Fire and Rescue Service, and the Department of Disaster Management participated in the four-day virtual training.
The session was organised by the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) as part of its annual training programme with financial support from United Kingdom Maritime and Coastguard Agency (UKMCA) through the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF). It was provided by Ambipar Response, and conforms to the requirements of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). Level 1 and Level 2 training sessions for persons who respond directly to oil spill incidents are scheduled to follow in February.
Residents who suspect an oil spill has occurred or is occurring should report it to the Virgin Islands Fire and Rescue Service by calling 911 or 999.
Caption: Members of the Oil Spill Response Team carried out a clean-up operation in Road Town in 2013. (Credit: DDM)