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Spill Notification Point
Competent National Authority
Bermuda has a standing Marine Pollution Contingency Committee headed by the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Tourism and Transport. The Committee's Command Team is headed by the Director of the Department of Environment Protection, Ministry of the Environment, with the Director of Marine & Ports Services as the alternate head.
The Ministry of the Environment would head any response operation with the Director of the Department of Environmental Protection or his deputy acting as the On-Scene Commander. In addition, several other government agencies would be involved in providing specialist advice and assistance including: the Marine Police; Department of Environmental Protection; Marine & Ports Services, Department of Conservation Services, Department of Parks, Ministry of Works and Engineering and Housing; Bermuda Fire Service and the Bermuda Regiment.
The RCC Bermuda Harbour Radio would serve as a command post and operational base for the OSC and command team. For minor local spills, the operational base is decided by the OSC and may include the Head Office of the Marine & Ports Services, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Ministry of the Environment or the Marine Police Base. The Marine Police are responsible for surveillance of oil spills.
A Marine Pollution Contingency Plan has been prepared. It is designed to provide a capability to deal with spills of up to 25 tonnes of oil and allows for international assistance to be acquired in the case of larger incidents for which local resources are inadequate. Environmental sensitivity maps identifying priority areas for protection, clean-up and conservation have also been developed.
As a dependency of the United Kingdom, in the event of a major incident, further assistance would be sought from the UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA).
Bermuda has a flexible policy regarding oil spill response techniques. Whilst containment and recovery of oil is usually the preferred approach, it is recognised that the exposed offshore waters and the complex coral reef structure make it difficult and hazardous to mount a major response. Dispersants are therefore considered an acceptable alternative and a policy detailing pre-approved areas for their use has been adopted.
Disposal of recovered oil is likely to be a major problem in the event of a large spill, due to the absence of space for direct disposal and the small capacity of the municipal waste incinerator.
The Department of Marine and Ports Services operates 3 containers of equipment including boom, skimmers, pumps, sorbents, dispersants and the Department of Environmental Protection also holds small amounts of sorbent and dispersant.
For shoreline clean-up, the main source of manpower would be the Bermuda Regiment.
Esso and Shell maintain oil spill response equipment including a dedicated oil spill response craft. There are commercial contractors in Bermuda who operate work boats and maintain a small amount of equipment.
Previous Spill Experience
The TIFOSO (1983) grounded with a loss of some 30 tons of bunkers. This oil was taken out to sea by the prevailing wind and currents. The AGUILA AZTECA (1984) grounded on a reef north of Bermuda. A small amount of oil was spilt which required little clean-up.
Prevention & Safety
|OPRC '90||OPRC HNS|
* not yet in force
Regional and bilateral agreements
- An agreement exists with the USA concerning assistance rendered by the US Coast Guard.
Date of issue: February 2005
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