PHC Practice Oil Spill Drill

PHC Practice Oil Spill Drill

As part of our on-going commitment to managing incidents in the Harbour, Poole Harbour Commissioners (PHC) recently simulated a major oil spill to test our capability and processes should we need to respond to a tier 2 hydrocarbon spill.

The major emergency exercise, which we carry out every three years, was facilitated by our contracted oil spill response partners Adler & Allan. This year’s scenario involved an articulated lorry recently disembarked from a ferry, colliding with a 3,000l waste oil bulk storage tank causing the waste oil to spread over the quay and head towards the water. 


PHC works in collaboration with more than 15 organisations, including the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), Environment Agency, Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole Council (BCP) and Perenco to carry out these exercises. Current COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing requirements meant this year’s task was held online for the first time.

As part of the response to the practical element of the exercise several booms were deployed from RoRo 3. In the event of a real oil spill situation, these booms would prevent any oil from flowing into environmentally sensitive areas. A skimmer was also used to demonstrate how the oil would be captured.

Although a major oil spill in the Harbour is unlikely, it is important that the risk is assessed and that a plan that has been approved by the MCA is in place to respond to such an incident, especially in such an environmentally sensitive area as Poole Harbour.

Captain Brian Murphy, Harbour Master said, “Our Oil Spill Response Plan sets out the contingency arrangements for responding to an actual or threatened oil pollution incident within Poole Harbour”. 

“These exercises are vitally important in ensuring that our highly trained personnel are prepared to deal with such unfortunate circumstances professionally and swiftly, helping us to minimise any risk to health, wildlife, the environment and to ensure business continuity”. 

we are prepared

Simulated exercises such as this provide the Harbour community with the confidence that Poole Harbour Commissioners will be prepared in the event of a major oil spill in Poole Harbour.

Captain Murphy added, “Testing our plan against various scenarios helps us to gain experience, be more prepared and allow us to continually improve our processes”.

“Holding this year’s exercise online to conform with the current restrictions in place due to COVID-19 also gave us the perfect opportunity to test our resilience as an organisation”.