Oil spill specialists will be heading for the Dover seafront this month to test their anti-pollution kit and trial their latest emergency procedures as part of a national contingency exercise.

The experts - from Oil Spill Response Ltd, Adler and Alan, Kent Resilience and the Port of Dover - will set up mobile incident facilities on the beach and deploy booms offshore to contain the imaginary slick. They will also have vessels and equipment simulating oil skimming from the surface of the water while shore teams perfect their beach decontamination skills.

Major National Oil Spill Exercise Hosted By Port Of Dover

The Port of Dover, with the Eastern Docks in the foreground and the Western Docks in the distance - Image courtesy: Raimond Spekking

In addition, the team plans to carry out SCAT (Shoreline Clean-up and Assessment Technique) surveys between Folkestone and St Margaret’s, charting the extent of possible contamination from the fictional spill.

Gabriel Gyamfi, from Oil Spill Response, said: “The exercise location will provide different challenges and tasks on unfamiliar turf for many of the parties involved. It will give us an opportunity to practise with the very latest equipment and will include elements of planning, shoreline and dockside operations.

“It will test the ability of various organisations to collaborate effectively to a potential major incident.”

The exercise, dubbed ‘White Cliff’, will run from November 16 to 18, with part of the scenario played out close to the Port’s Tug Haven, and part in the vicinity of the slipway on Dover seafront.

Large inflatable Incident Command tents will be mounted, and teams of specialists in full protective clothing will set up decontamination zones as well as temporary storage areas where water will be pumped from the skimming process.

Emma Ward, Port of Dover’s General Manager responsible for safety and environment, said: “This is a rare opportunity for the various organisations to train together while putting their latest kit to the test. The lessons learned in the harbour will not only be crucial to protecting the environment of the Port of Dover but also to protecting beaches across the UK.

“We’re proud to host Exercise White Cliff and to take a central role in ensuring that Britain’s crucial maritime industry – responsible for 95 per cent of the nation’s trade in goods – continues to operate efficiently with minimal impact on the environment.”

Source: Port of Dover