When an oil spill occurs, one big question is: do we have the right tools for the job of responding? Oiled wildlife response is no exception, as capturing and rehabilitating oiled animals requires a set of specialised equipment of which there are relatively few stockpiles available internationally. European oiled wildlife responders recently came together in Germany to consider this question, within the framework of the EUROWA project.
Project team members travelled to Germany in October to inspect and assess a stockpile of oiled wildlife response equipment (donated to Sea Alarm by IFAW in 2011) in Hamburg. The first part of the exercise was to mobilise the equipment out of the warehouse to a separate site, then to unpack the 21 storage cases and inspect the contents of each for completeness. Every item was numbered and photographed for inclusion in an electronic equipment catalogue.
The second phase was to consider the quality and capacity of the stockpile. The team laid out the equipment into areas denoting the response or rehabilitation facility department that it would be used in during a spill and made assessments of:
- Items which are no longer considered as the ‘gold standard’ (which were discarded and appropriate replacements will be ordered).
- The rate of consumption of items such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in each department (as a guideline for resupply needs).
- A list of items which would need to be purchased locally to make the stockpile operational.
- The capacity of the current stockpile and recommendations on supplementing it with additional items in order to be able to cope with larger oiled wildlife incidents.
With this information, there is a better understanding of what ‘tools’ are available for international oiled wildlife response in Europe through the EUROWA module and where improvements or alterations would result in better preparedness.
The EUROWA project also aims to explore future availability of this stockpile though identifying a specialist organisation with appropriate means to store, maintain and transport the equipment on the longer term. German authorities active in oil spill response preparedness also attended part of the exercise to meet the EUROWA team and view the stockpile, leading to some preliminary discussions on whether the equipment could potentially remain in Germany, which is to be explored further during 2016.