Australians ‘committed’ to following oil spill recommendations

A year on from the devastating Pacific Adventurer oil spill Australian authorities have said they're 'committed' to implementing recommendations from two reports into the disaster's clean up.

The Bligh Government has also said it welcomes the two independent reviews of the clean-up operation.

In the reports the response of authorities to the disaster is rated as ‘effective’ and ‘successful’, but also identifies a number of areas for improvement.

The reports are an independent review conducted by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) released today by the Federal Government.

And an independent review commissioned by the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads.

The reports evaluated the effectiveness of the response to the loss of 270 tonnes of heavy fuel oil from the Pacific Adventurer in to the sea off Moreton Island on 11 March 2009.

The AMSA report found ‘that overall the response to the incident was effective and generally in accordance with the policies and procedures set out in the National Plan’.

The report also describes the decision not to use chemical dispersants at sea as ‘appropriate, sound and consisten’.

Bligh’s minister for transport, Rachel Nolan, said: “There was an extraordinary response to the oil spill, with over 2,500 people from 22 agencies assisting in the clean-up operation.

“While these reports endorse many of the critical decisions taken at the time, the Government is determined to improve our preparedness.

“The Bligh Government will implement all of the 11 recommendations contained within these reports to ensure we are even better prepared in the future.

Other initiatives included in the reports are:

·A new memorandum of understanding between MSQ and the Local Government Association of Queensland regarding the response to oil spills which focuses on shoreline clean up capabilities will be progressed as a matter of priority.

·The Queensland National Plan State Committee, which provides strategic advice and is the conduit for operational resources in the response to a significant marine pollution incident, is meeting over March and April to continue developing strategies to ensure the State is appropriately prepared and well positioned for any future response operations.

·A revised Queensland Coastal Contingency Action Plan and Queensland Disaster Management Plan is being developed to enable effective joint operations when responding to large-scale incidents.

·MSQ is integrating its existing marine pollution response management framework and training with disaster management services provided through Emergency Management Queensland.

·A new training and exercise program commencing in 1 July to target personnel from local government, port authorities, emergency services and relevant government agencies.

·MSQ will participate and incorporate the lessons learnt from the Pacific Adventurer incident, in the review of the National Plan, undertaken by the Commonwealth Government during 2010/2011.

The Department of Environment and Resource Management is monitoring the recovery of the natural environment which was affected.

Luke Walsh

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