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Preparedness to oil spill pollution: a case study

Antarctica phase III (1993-1997)

Preparedness to oil spill pollution : a case study cooperation between MUMM and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS)

In 1996, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) examined contingency planning for oil spill response in Antarctica, and evaluated the capacities of Antarctic research stations and ships to react to pollution incidents. As part of this study, the BAS studied the use of oil spill simulation models as management tools to help in spill response.
The BAS discovered that the only computer model designed specifically for examining the trajectory and fate of oil spills in Antarctica had been developed by the Management Unit of the North Sea and Scheldt Estuary Mathematical Model (MUMM) - Belgian Royal Institute of Natural Sciences as part of the Belgian Scientific Research Programme on the Antarctic. This model had been developed for oil spills occurring in the Weddell Sea.

The MUMM and BAS collaborated in running the model for different scenarios designed by BAS to investigate the possible consequences of a major fuel spill. Data were supplied by BAS and Environment Canada. The scenarios involved the release of 163,000 litres of marine gas oil (e.g. the loss of a resupply or scientific vessel) at different locations in the Weddell Sea. The results provided by MUMM to BAS consisted of oil slick trajectories, and forecasts of the weathering of the fuel and pack ice conditions.

The joint study showed how useful computer models could be in spill response operations. Further development of this kind of model will benefit from close collaboration between modellers and people with practical experience of working in the Antarctic and dealing with actual incidents.

For further information contact either Dr J. Shears, Environmental Officer, BAS or Dr G. Pichot, MUMM.

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