Aug 17, 2012

A quicker, more effective response to oil spills

New state-of-the-art equipment to clean up oil spills more quickly and effectively is being rolled out across nine ports around the country.

The equipment, worth some $13.5 million, will be delivered in coming weeks to National Resource Centres in Sydney, Melbourne, Devonport, Adelaide, Perth, Dampier, Darwin, Townsville and Brisbane.

In the last decade, we have seen more ships on our waters thanks to increased mining and industrial activity. With increased activity comes increased risks and we need to address the risks associated with these changing shipping patterns, particularly in north-Western Australia and the Great Barrier Reef.

While oil spills rarely happen, they can have catastrophic consequences, particularly in pristine environments such as the Great Barrier Reef.

Incidents such as Pacific Adventurer in 2009 and Shen Neng 1 in 2010 remind us of the huge risks that oil spills can present to the environment

It’s critical we’re able to respond to such incidents quickly and effectively to minimise the impact on our marine environment and reduce the impact to industries and communities.

The new equipment is state-of-the-art, allows for more effective clean ups in a wider range of conditions. We’ll be able to clean more oil, more quickly and in rougher water. Additionally, mobile wildlife cleaning facilities will equip authorities with the ability to better clean wildlife affected by oil spills.

The rollout includes 18 dispersant spray systems, 31 skimmers (oil recovery systems) and 13 kilometres of boom (oil containment systems).

Six new oil sweep systems have also been purchased which will allow for oil spills to be cleaned up in a wider range of sea conditions.

The new equipment is part of our five-year program to upgrade the nation’s stockpile of oil spill response equipment. The Australian Government’s Review of the National Plan to Combat Pollution of the Sea by Oil and Other Noxious and Hazardous Substances focuses on the partnership with the shipping industry, which recognises the need to protect Australia’s marine environment.

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National Plan Equipment Stockpiles

Map showing the National Plan Equipment Stockpile locations