Coastal Pollution Emergency Plan, Part I

(By G. Semanov, V. Volkov, V. Somkin, D. Iljushenko-Krylov ; INSROP Working Paper No. 76 – 1997, II.6.5)


A higher degree of ecological safety of the ship traffic is dependent not only upon onboard measures, but is also closely associated with the shore, particularly with the reception facilities for collection and treatment of ship generated wastes and the preparedness for combating the emergency oil spills. The problem is particularly acute in the NSR because of:

  • exclusively high vulnerability of the Arctic ecosystems,
  • very low rates of natural degradation of oil in the Arctic seas,
  • absence of a forward coastal infrastructure,
  • low efficiency of the oil combating means in ice conditions,
  • severe climatic conditions in the Arctic

While in the recent years there have been no oil spills in the NSR, they are quite likely to happen in the near future as the off-shore production and transportation of oil by ships and pipes is planned. Therefore, the preparedness for the oil spill combating becomes very important, one aspect of which being the development of the Oil Spill Contingency Plan (OSCP).

The principal objective of the plan is to gain the response and preparedness, the preparation and organization of major operations for OSCP through the use of capabilities and sources of a response organization assisted by some others concerned.

The OSCP of NSR is a regional plan. There are three following levels of creating it:

1. Development of concept, definition of response organizations and technical ability of them. (Part I)

2. Collection and analysis of information, development of scenarios of probable oil spills, clearing of the funding mechanism and the basis for additional outside cooperation in case of emergencies from other Russian regions and circumpolar countries. (Part II)

3. Development of the NSR oil spill contingency plan. (Part III)

The goal of the 1995 work is to solve the aims of the first level.

The NSR oil spill contingency plan's concept will take into account:

1. subdivision of the Route into two eastern and western response areas;

2. interaction and links between responsible organizations;

3. existing realities of the Russian Arctic, such as transport, communications, energy, labour resources, etc.;

4. requirements of the IMO and of the International Convention OPRC 90 which will be shortly joined by Russia.

According to the Russian legislation on the environment protection from pollution and on combating the emergency oil spills, implementation of the combating operations at sea is the responsibility of the MPCSA that consists of the Central Administration (CA) and the basin emergency divisions (BEDs). For combating the emergency oil spills in the seas of the NSR, two basin divisions are designated: the Murmansk basin emergency division (MBED) is responsible for the western Arctic and the Far East basin emergency division (FEBED) for the eastern Arctic. The divisions are centered in the non-freezing ports of Murmansk and Nahodka respectively which have most powerful and equipped bases for salvage operations, aircraft bases and airports in their vicinities, and an advanced infrastructure. The MPCSA is in charge of carrying out cleaning operations at sea from installations, either governmental or private. The operations can be assisted with resources and means of the co-operating organizations and helped by those of other countries in accordance with international agreements of the Russian Federation. For some areas of the NSR Russia has such agreements with Norway (for the Barents Sea) and with the United States (for the Bering Sea).

By analogy with a staff for ice operations, for immediate control of the oil spill combating (OSC) operations the plan should provide for establishment of the operational management staff (OMS) that should periodically meet to assess the efficiency of the plan, exercises, and drills. The OMS should include representatives of region administrations the ice operation headquarters, the Emercon, control authorities and the largest co-operating organizations; and it should be headed by the administration of the region where a spill has occurred. The OMS should be added by a working group and assisted by an expert group. The on-scene commander at sea is usually the head of BED. For reception, processing and transmission of information, the plan should provide for the use of existing Arctic communication centers, as well the possibility of creating temporal communication points. The plan should specify high risk zones, priority areas for protection, data on actual and expected amount of oil traffic and estimates of likely volumes of the emergency oil spills. A11 the information is presented in projects of the I, II and III subprogrammes of the INSROP Programme. The present report (Part I) provides the plan's concept, rescue organizations and data on types and amounts of the oil spill combating technical means and of the floating facilities available in the NSR or in its vicinity.


    G. Semanov, V. Volkov, V. Somkin, D. Iljushenko-Krylov, 1997, Coastal Pollution Emergency Plan, Part I, INSROP.©

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