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IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC)

Advancing knowledge and cooperation for a healthy ocean and prosperous society

IOC/WESTPAC Training Workshop on the Monitoring Technique and Emergency Response of Marine Oil Spills

The IOC/WESTPAC Training Workshop on the Monitoring Technique and Emergency Response of Marine Oil Spills successfully took place in Qingdao, 20-23 April 2009, with generous host of the First Institute of Oceanography of SOA, China, and co-sponsored by the Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute and China-Korea Joint Ocean Research Center. The four-day IOC/WESTPAC Training Workshop consisted of three-day training and one-day joint workshop on Oil Spills in Yellow Sea.

As several distinguished guests mentioned with satisfaction this training workshop received wide recognition. Total 34 trainees from 12 countries were selected and 7 well known lecturers were invited. The first three-day training with 16 technical lectures delivered from 7 lecturers and one day of joint workshop with 14 presentations on the Marine Oil Spills in the Yellow Sea provided a comprehensive knowledge portal covering the topics on source identification, monitoring and forecasting techniques, emergency response and environmental risk and impact assessment.

On the morning of the first day, 12 country reports have been reported by trainees

from China, DPR of Korea, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam, mainly focusing on national efforts in combating oil spills and academic studies relevant with oil spill response such as the ocean remote sensing, using Dynamical Oceanography Approach, GIS Technology for and bioremediation research, etc.

Even some certain difference exists among the reports in terms of the content converge and quality, it obviously reflected that with rapid economic growth in the member states of western pacific over the past years, Oil spills mainly resulting from oil transportation and industry pose a range of environmental risks and causes wide public concern. Great importance has been attached by all member states to the oil spill prevention, preparedness and response, by the formulation of laws and contingency plan, establishment of coordinating mechanism, and strengthening national capability for monitoring and emergency response, etc. However, the need was also clearly stressed to improve the capability on oil spill response.

From the Presentations made by Prof. Zhengdi Wang from Environmental Technology Center of Environment Canada, mainly on: Oil physical properties, chemical compositions & fate and behavior; Oil weathering and chemical fingerprinting; Using sesquiterpenes and diamondoids for source identification, Forensic identification and differentiation of pyrogenic PAHs from petrogenic PAHs, trainees become fully aware of how to unambiguously characterize, identify and quantify spill oil hydrocarbons by the cutting-edge analytical techniques and how importantly these scientific research contributes to environmental damage assessment, even for the settlement of legal liability. It should be borne in mind that no single analytical technique could provide defensive conclusion. Therefore the multi criterion should be applied for a final accurate solution.

Ms. Anne Le Roux’s from Center of Documentation, Research and Experimentation on Accidental Water Pollution (Cedre) updated the trainees with the current widely used measures for monitoring/predicting oil at the sea, and its respective limitation for use. It is evident that the combined or complementary use of modeling, aerial observations by a trained observers and remote sensing, even newly developed drifting buoy could greatly improve forecasting accuracy of subsequent oil movement, efficiently implement appropriate oil spill countermeasures, and timely inform the wider response community of the present status of pollution distribution.

From Dr. Woo Joon Shim and Un-Hyuk Yim from Korea Ocean Research & Development Institute, we are very much impressed with what a wonderful scientific job has been done to combat the ever-worst oil spill accidents-Hebei Spirit in the history of Korea. We are provided, through Dr. Shim’s presentation, with knowledge on the Environment Impact Assessment by referring to the recent Hebei spirit oil spill. The presentations emphasized the importance of EIA after oil spill and outline the framework of EIA and the requirements to assess the environment impact promptly, efficiently, accurately and clearly. Following the same oil spill case, Dr. Yim presented the lessons learned, particularly on the need to develop standardized manual for shoreline cleanup assessment which could be of great help to systematically survey and document the affected area to provide a rapid and accurate geographic picture of shoreline oiling conditions in order to develop real-time decisions regarding shoreline treatment and cleanup operations.

Prof. James Zhang’s from China Offshore Production & Environment Service Limited presentations underscored the need to put sufficient response resources in place as a key and appropriate measure for oil spill preparedness, and outlined some fundamental principles of optimum allocation of response resources; He also pointed out preventive approach is the best option for oil spill response by conducting well designed assessment and inspection on offshore installations, to ensure the minimize environment risk. Finally, he concluded his all lectures by referring to options to cleanup oil from Sea water, in which Mechanical recovery is primary. For shoreline cleanup, he explained that attempts have been made in the case of China in recovering its ecosystem through setting up region-special ecosystem models.

Dr.Alex Hunt from the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Limited (ITOPF) briefed the trainees with the establishment history of IOTPF, its major work to provide technical advice, expertise and information on effective response to ship-source pollution. He further made an in-depth explanation on the international compensation Regimes, like 1992 Civil Liability Convention, 1992 Fund Convention and 2003 Supplementary Fund and the Scope of Compensation. On the Third day, He presented the several key elements for oil spill response decision making, covering information collection, appropriate strategy for at-sea response and adaptive options for shoreline cleanup. He also indicated that an effective response adapts as the situation evolves, the best response involve a variety of techniques; and good response decisions are always based on technical criteria.

The workshop also thanked the UNEP Regional Seas Program-North West Pacific Action Plan, and the China Maritime Administration for sending one expert, Mr.Zhang Chunchang to brief the with NOWPAP and one of its priorities on the establishment of a NW Pacific contingency plan for marine oils and main activities conducted by its Regional Activity Center on Marine Environmental Emergency Preparedness and Response (MEERRAC). He also detailed the strategy for oil spill response of the China Maritime Safety Authority.

A joint workshop on oil spill was held on 23 April 2009, focusing on the efforts and latest research results made by the scientists bordering the Yellow Sea, particularly from the devastating accident of Hebei Spirit.