Accidents and operational discharges by ships or offshore platforms which release chemicals pose a direct threat to the coastline, nature reserves, and the ports of the North Sea Region. The risk of oil leakage is small but is present nevertheless. The region is insufficiently prepared for this. The risk increases as the ports in the North Sea Region continue to improve their position economically and to expand their activities.
The washing ashore of oil or chemicals has disastrous consequences for nature. Especially areas with silty soft plates and low tides, such as the Wadden Sea or the Wash are extremely vulnerable. The economic damage to ports affected by such disasters is also enormous. Ports will have to close temporarily, with all the consequences that implies. Speedy action is crucial, but due to several factors, the management of such disasters is actually delayed.
Available oil clearance techniques do not work in all areas or may be ineffective. Detection techniques that were developed have not yet been properly put in place. Responsibilities for both the countries affected and the parties involved are not clear. This is especially true in cross border areas.
There is barely any exchange of knowledge or any development in this regard. Applicable knowledge is not currently utilised efficiently and effectively by the regions and industries and authorities do not have any direct access to such knowledge.
Spillage cannot be cleared up within vulnerable areas using current techniques without also causing great damage to nature.
Within the project, the following task packages could be distinguished:
Universities and companies will be included in the optimisation of new techniques to prevent, control and clean up pollution. Risks will be identified, such as for vulnerable low-water areas. The area-specific effects of pollution will be described here as well.
Further investigation will yield valuable information for combating and removal, but also for storage and processing of collected contamination.
Knowledge of oil flow velocity should be accessed. This can be used to rapidly and purposefully clear oil spills before they wash ashore on the coast or in the sea ports. Universities with a specific (Maritime) training in this direction will, in addition, be able to contribute significantly to the designing of a traffic management system for the North Sea Region.
2. Exchange of knowledge
A working package in which all parties involved (universities, market and government) are represented, will name the areas in which there is a need for an exchange of knowledge. Such knowledge exchange between universities on the one hand and market and government on the other hand will be organised in such a way that continuity is guaranteed. This could involve an information system, but also a set of wide-ranging events.
The unique knowledge exchanged and further expanded within this project will strengthen the position of universities and businesses in the world, while enabling governments to better assume responsibility in the event of oil spills.
3. Development of products and services
Based upon the research at universities, businesses will be able to develop a number of products and services that can be used for combating, clearing-up and removing oil pollution. In this regard, amphibious craft may be considered, as well as a drone that can detect oil spills.
Currently, there are no suitable methods in the market for cleaning up oil on sand banks, mud flats and salt marshes. These vulnerable areas occur all over the entire North Sea Region. Special control methods will be developed within the project as prototypes.
4. Designing and implementing of a traffic management system
The relevant parties will be expected to provide relevant inputs to the implementation of a traffic management system. Parties involved purport to have a need for this, but constructive collaboration between countries in this regard is lacking. Great differences exist in legislation and regulations.
Based upon the input of the parties involved, it will be possible to determine what aids will have to be developed and procured, and in which way deficiencies in collaboration can be solved.
Partners who see points of common interest are sought in the InterReg Vb North Sea Region, so that a common project may be designed. The four working packages discussed above may serve as possible directives for this purpose.
Partners Found Already
Universities, businesses, and governments will collaborate closely in the project, in order to enable irreversible steps to be taken to combat oil pollution in a Europe-wide context.
Mr Wierd Koops, professor at NHL University of Applied Sciences, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands has a wide network of universities, SME's en Governmental organisations who will be incorporated.
Research institutes and SME's interested in the theme of oil pollution: optimisation of new techniques to prevent, control and clean up oil pollution.
knowledge, innovation, SME, oil spill
18 September 2014