Friday, October 14, 2005

Port tests oil spill response

* Spain may join next exercise

A Gibraltar Port Authority carried out their final exercise in a three-day programme to practice anti-pollution response mechanisms yesterday.

Although there was no Spanish involvement this year, officials hope that this will change in the future as a result of the new climate of cooperation with the neighbouring port of Algeciras.

"I am hopeful that once our current discussions with the port of Algeciras progress, we may be able to develop a strategy which will take care of any incident in the bay where we have a joint approach to the pollution,” said Joe Holliday, minister for trade, industry and telecommunications.

“This is one of the issues that is very much at the forefront of our discussions.”

A team of pollution control experts from UK-based Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL), with which the government has a contract in case of a major spill, also participated in the exercise, which is held at least once a year.

Chris Miles, one of the company’s duty managers at its headquarters in Southampton, said the exercise helped his team to familiarise themselves with the equipment available here, which they might one day have to rely on in a real situation.

“For a port, there’s a very good level of equipment in Gibraltar,” he said.

“Around the UK, very rarely do we see so much equipment available, but then again, Gibraltar is a major bunkering facility so you can expect that.”

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