On Saturday July 5th the Harbor Masters office at the Capt. L.A.I Chance harbour held an oil spill response exercise in collaboration with various other stakeholders including the Saba Marine Park, local dive operators, Public Works, local fishermen as well as personnel from the St. Eustatius Harbour office.
During the exercise the current buster was deployed by the volunteers. The current buster which is part of the islands oil response resources is used to the separate oil from the seawater and contain it until can be properly disposed was towed by local fisherman, Nicolas Johnson. The intention was to use only local resources because this is what would be generally available during a disaster.
The oil response exercise is carried out annually to test the readiness of the island’s stakeholders. Because of the limited capacity of the island, the Harbor office is reliant on volunteers who are trained to operate the technical equipment necessary to contain an oil spill should it occur here or on a neighboring island. It should be noted that the equipment is only a first line of defense and in the event of a large oil spill resources are available in the region to assist in the cleanup.
Harbor Master Travis Johnson said that he could see dramatic improvements from previous years particularly in the time it took to deploy the current buster and also to put it back storage. This shows that persons are becoming familiar with the equipment and also with executing the tasks.