MCA To Run Major Oil Spill Exercise In Scilly

Anti spillage equipment being tested include the Nofi Current Buster. Photo courtesy of the MCA.

Anti spillage equipment being tested include the Nofi Current Buster. Photo courtesy of the MCA.

Islanders and visitors shouldn’t be alarmed if they see anti-pollution equipment being used around St Mary’s next week.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) are running an exercise on Wednesday (25th May) and Thursday to test how the UK would react to a major oil spill at sea and on the coastline.

They’re working closely with the counter pollution equipment contractor Braemar Howells, the Council and the St Mary’s Harbour team to see how effectively and efficiently counter pollution equipment and personnel can be deployed.

During the two-day exercise a variety of different equipment will be used at Porth Hellick and at-sea from the harbour.

The MCA says a number of vessels will also be involved and relatively new equipment will be tested, such as the Nofi Current Buster (see photo) – an inflatable boom that can contain a spillage.

Gail Robertson from the MCA Counter Pollution Team said: “Thankfully, modern navigational safety improvements mean that the Isles of Scilly are no longer blighted with the tragedy of vessels being regularly wrecked on their coastline despite the large number of vessels which pass through the nearby waters every year.

“Nevertheless, with thousands of small islands scattered around the UK coast from the Shetland Isles down to the Isles of Scilly, it’s right that we continue to test and exercise our response capability around the entire UK to improve our readiness should a major oil pollution incident occur in the future.

“This exercise will give the UK an opportunity to assess its response capability to pollution in an environmentally sensitive and ecologically precious location.”

The last major oil spill to affect the seas around Scilly was back in 1967 when the Torrey Canyon hit the Seven Stones reef.