Oil Pollution

The Shannon Estuary and its approaches from the North Atlantic Ocean are areas of major commercial, environmental and scenic importance on the western seaboard of Ireland. Apart form the major sea bird colonies on the west coast and home to dolphin population, the Shannon Estuary holds the largest single area of intertidal mudflats in the country and this is of international importance for populations of wintering and migratory birds. The Estuary also contains significant areas of saltmarsh vegetation which grows near high water mark.

The shoreline of the Estuary is highly vulnerable to oil pollution which is difficult to clean-up from soft sediments. Six locations in the Estuary are proposed as Natural Heritage Areas. Due to their importance for birds several major sections of the Estuary are also proposed as a Special Protection Area under an EU Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds.

The oil response equipment is strategically located in a specially equipped warehouse in the Port of Foynes.

A group of statutory authorities and port customers set up to provide a co-ordinated response to oil pollution in the Shannon Estuary. Each member contributed initially to provide pollution response equipment and support tools. This equipment is available to respond to any pollution incident or threat. Members contribute annually to maintain equipment, carry out exercises and training and purchase new and replacement equipment.

Port customers accounted for part of the 1.3 million tonnes of hydro-carbon fuels imported through the Shannon Estuary, and it was this awareness that prompted the Port Company to form and lead a consortium to handle any possible oil pollution in the Estuary and its adjoining waters.

The group has been in operation for the past 10 years under a committee of pollution officers representing the members. The aim of the group is to provide a unified response to oil pollution within the region, even though each have individual responsibilities or their own areas. An Oil Spill Tracking Model, Geographic Information System, Environmental Atlas, Sensitivity Study, Oil Spill Response Strategy. Hydrocarbon Baseline Study and Emergency Response Plans have been developed for the Region and updated.

Incidents involving Very Large Crude Carriers such as the grounding of the “SEA EMPRESS” at the entrance to Milford Haven in South Wales, The ‘Prestige’ of the Spanish Coast and the total loss of the “BRAER” in the Shetland Islands resulting in the spillage of crude oil on coastlines wealthy in nature reserves is yet another reminder of the necessity to be prepared to deal with such accidents and minimise the damage that might be caused. It is satisfying to know that the Shannon Estuary is now protected by the most modern counter-pollution measures in Europe with the full support of most of the major oil users. It will be even more satisfying if these counter measures never have to be employed.

The Pollution Control Plan

In case of an Environmental Emergency:

Contact: (Please remember to state clearly the position and nature of the Environmental emergency)
Marine Operations: +353 (0) 69 73103

Coastguard: 999/112

Duty Harbour Master: +353 (0) 69 73103 (Office Hours)
Duty Harbour Master: +353 (0) 87 2542266 (After Hours)

Port Radio: Shannon Ports Radio Ch16/11
Shannon Pilot Station Radio Ch 16/11
Shannon Coastguard Radio Ch 16/28

For Gardai, Fire, etc: 999/112 (state which service you require)

For equipment contact as per the cascade list

Contact

For more information or to place an enquiry please contact Hugh Conlon Shannon Estuary Anti-Pollution Team Harbour Office, Mill House, Foynes, County Limerick, Ireland Tel: +353 69 73100 Fax: +353 69 65142 Email: info@seapt.ie