Doubts over Portugal’s ability to tackle an oil spill

Dear Editor,

I too attended Atlantic POLEX 2016 (Algarve Resident, October 27), both the seminar and spill simulation on Praia da Rocha and came away with serious doubts as to whether Portugal can really tackle an oil spill on a Tier 3 scale (the most catastrophic modelled scenario).

The PR exercise carried out at Praia da Rocha was mainly a showcase of basic oil spill response assets and personnel deemed important, including naval brass walking around in polished shoes, outnumbering people dressed in hazmat suits.

Generally, there was no mention of onsite training of volunteers who would probably be the first to arrive on an oiled coastline; no mention of deploying heavy machinery to deal with oiled sands on some of the Algarve’s less accessible beaches; no mention of the removal and disposal method of oiled sand from the coastline; and no mention of evacuating a coastal town downwind of a large spill with noxious gases.

It’s only a matter of time before a major pollution event does happen, so I suggest the relevant authorities take the simulation exercises more seriously and come up with a comprehensive plan.

Charlie Frew MSc
By email