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Shoreline evaluation vital part of oil spill response and clean up

A walk across east coast beaches took on added significance this month as training course participants assessed the shoreline in order to be more prepared for an oil spill.

Staff from the EPA Division recently took part in the two-day shoreline clean-up and assessment training session at Swansea.

The course provides essential skills for shoreline cleanup response and is organised by the EPA. In this case an enthusiastic Senior Constable Shane Golder from Tasmania Police rallied his local community in order to get the training in his region.

Shane believes it is vital to have community services come together to learn what to do in the event of an oil spill in the area.

"We have pristine coastline up here and it is really important to have local people trained to respond to such an incident," he said.

Participants included employees of the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council, the State Emergency Service, the Parks and Wildlife Service, and Tasmania Police.

"The aim of the course is to teach participants how to assess and effectively clean up shorelines in order to reduce the impacts of oil on the environment and wildlife," said Marine Pollution Officer Letitia Lamb from the EPA Division.

"Shoreline cleanup is best suited to local councils in terms of local resources and responsibilities under our State Oil Spill Response Plan. Now the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council has a more strategic response available to them, with various members of their community equipped with the right knowledge to assist."

"The community also came together in order for the training to run. The local SES provided the training room and lunches for both days, Parks and Wildlife Service assisted by providing the local knowledge session for the course, and most importantly the Council provided funding to run the course."

Catherine Sampson from the Parks and Wildlife Service opened the training with an ecological introduction to the Swansea region.

"A good knowledge of ecological issues is critical in order to make a correct response," Cath said. The group examined the animals and plants found in the region, and the habitats they live in, such as Moulting Lagoon, Schouten Island and Wineglass Bay.

The course was run by Chris Priestly of Response Resource Management. Chris has had more than 20 years experience in this field and has been involved in numerous major oil spill clean-up incidents around the world.

Chris told the group to use the resources at hand to best respond to an incident. This includes looking at the beach or foreshore, examining the currents, making a note of the wind, assessing what type of oil is involved, working out the best way to protect the shoreline and calculating what equipment is needed.

"The point of the course is to get local people skilled up and ready to respond," Chris said.

The course involved theory, plus visits to local beaches to assess the shoreline and plan a course of action. Practical demonstrations were offered by EPA Division staff in the use of various types of oil spill equipment and clean-up techniques, including how to use a length of shoreline boom, scrapers, shovels, stakes and tape.

"The response from all involved has been very positive and I thank Senior Constable Golder for his efforts to bring everyone together," Letitia said.

"The willingness and support from Council to fund the course also has to be applauded. This initiative has opened the possibility to make this training available for other coastal council regions."