South Africa is proactively preparing to manage marine pollution incidents to lessen their impact on the environment.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) said it will do this by ensuring that the appropriate resources and stakeholders are activated quickly, and that the decision-making process is done timeously.

“The South African Interim Incident Management Organisation (IMOrg), under the Department of Transport, plays a critical role in co-ordinating preparedness and response, utilising the internationally recognised Incident Management System (IMS), which was introduced locally in 2015,” SAMSA said.

The Interim IMOrg was constituted on 25 October 2017 following preparatory work done by the B1 Working Group under Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy.

The 4th Joint Industry-Government National Oil Spill Response Exercise took place virtually on the Wednesday, following on from the 3rd National Exercise in November 2019.

The 4th Exercise drill was to test the preparedness of the country in case of oil spillage emergencies.

“In identifying the potential impact of offshore oil and gas production, the critical issue of oil spills and their impact on the marine environment was raised.

“In the context of preliminary discussions, which initially took place in 2014 during the Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy collaboration sessions, it was clear that there was a need for a joint government-industry response approach to marine pollution incidents in the maritime, and oil and gas sectors,” said Interim IMOrg co-chairperson, Captain Ravi Naicker from SAMSA.

The exercise focused solely on the Incident Command and Planning Response. The objective of the exercise includes:

  • Testing the Incident Command function during a response.
  • Bringing several key stakeholders under one command structure to evaluate their capability to deal with a major incident in South Africa, involving an offshore asset and shoreline impact.
  • Testing the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NOSCP), the IMS Handbook, content of the toolkit, the National Oiled Wildlife Response Contingency Plan (NOWPRCP), West Coast Local Oil Spill Contingency Plan (LOSCP), Sensitivity Atlas, the Dispersant Policy and applicable IMS forms.
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