Barbados’ National Oil Spill Response Team is said to be sufficiently equipped????to handle up to a Tier-Two level oil spill – which translates to less than 476 barrels of oil.

And, in the unfortunate instance of a Tier Three spill, which is believed to be outside of the island’s capacity, Barbadians have been given the assurance that regional and extra-regional resources would be speedily mobilised to lend assistance.

This assurance was given yesterday by both Government and private sector representatives concluding a two-day simulation exercise, organised by the Barbados National Oil Spill Response Committee off Brandons Beach.

Addressing a media briefing, Country Manager of Esso Standard Oil, Cally Boyea, who is also a member of the Marine Oil Spill Action Plan (MOSAP), a collective of private sector oil companies, as well as Government agencies including Barbados National Terminal Co. Ltd (BNTCL) and Barbados National Oil Company Limited ??(BNOCL), said he was sure that a spill of up to a certain magnitude could be handled locally.

"With the national structure that is set up in Barbados?? I feel very comfortable that we have the response capabilities to respond to an incident of a certain level …From?? what we are seeing here,?? I can tell you that I can go to bed very happy at night.?? I mean just look ….the cooperation that exists; the fact that you have an entity called MOSAP, which is a cooperation among oil companies.

"Even though we compete for your business – we fight to get you to buy from each of us, when it comes to protecting the environment, we cooperate; when it comes to protecting the lives of people, we cooperate," Mr. Boyea underlined.

In giving further details, the Esso head noted that local oil companies, like most of the major global ones, were members of a Fort Lauderdale -based cooperative called the Clean Caribbean Cooperative (CCC), which gave them access to state-of-the-art equipment.

"We have all come together and stockpiled a tremendous amount of equipment in Miami, and they are stockpiled in such a way in that you can just take a forklift, load an aircraft and get them here in 24 hours.?? I want to assure you that if it gets outside the level of the resources around this table, that we will activate a regional response team, with the equipment that we have stockpiled to assist the Barbados Government," Mr. Boyea assured.

In terms of planning capacity, Deputy Director of the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) and Chair of the Barbados National Oil Spill Response Committee, Anthony Headley, said one of his key responsibilities was to ensure that the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan remained relevant and was known by those responsible for its execution, in the event that they needed to be mobilised to respond to an incident.

He also underlined the need to upgrade the skills of persons on the team, by annually identifying opportunities for training, through either the Clean Caribbean Centre, or a Curacao-based Oil Spill Training Centre.??

Mr. Headley explained the exercise sought primarily to test the Oil Spill Contingency Plan and its revisions, the Dispersant Policy with Barbados’ territorial waters; communications systems between response agencies, and response time for the mobilisation of equipment held by various oil companies.?? It was also designed to assess worker safety and personnel response for marine as well as on-shore operations, media relations and roles and responsibilities of members of the Barbados National Response team to ensure that smooth team transitions during an oil spill.?? The last oil spill simulation was held in 2004.

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