Training ensures Gold Coast first-strike pollution response is world class

Our Waterways Team undergoes regular training to make sure it keeps pace with innovation and changes in technology used to respond to reports of oil pollution in Gold Coast waters.

It’s part of the team’s brief to act as first-strike responders in the event of vessel-sourced oil spills.

This included managing the vessel pictured above that took on water in Currigee Inlet, off South Stradbroke Island, over the Easter break.

The vessel ended up on its side leading to some oil escaping into nearby waters.

The team deployed containment booms to prevent further discharge and used absorbent pads to mop up leaking fuel in the engine room.

Since the start of July last year, GCWA has responded to 18 reports of vessel-sourced oil pollution, including this one.

Under pollution law, GCWA is obliged to recover all expenses for pollution response from vessel owners.

The team also actively works with marina operators and boat owners to improve awareness and education around reducing marine pollution. Team members also keep their skills up to date through regular participation in industry training exercises.

This includes Exercise Cremer, which was a pollution response exercise run by Maritime Safety Queensland in Mackay in February this year involving local, Queensland and Commonwealth Government agencies.

The exercise was named after the Cremer, a 50-metre passenger and cargo ship that was employed in trading with Indonesia, Singapore and China. It ran aground off St Bees Island (nearby Keswick Island) off the Mackay coast during a major storm in September 1943. Luckily, there were no casualties

The 2020 exercise centred on providing a response to a fictitious shipping incident which caused an oil leak off the coast of Mackay.

A key member of our Waterways Team performed the role of team leader for shoreline assessment and establishment of a decontamination area. This included delivering a field briefing to agency officials and community leaders about the correct use of decontamination equipment.

Not only did the response team have to manage oil spills but they were given a crash course in crocodile safety to ensure they were equipped to deal with a marine hazard not found in Gold Coast waters!

Learnings from the exercise will be put to good use in GCWA’s operations, ensuring our first response capabilities remain world class.

GCWA is a member of the National Response Team for marine pollution response. This has seen team members participate  in pollution responses nationally and internationally, with one team member taking part in a response near a World-Heritage-listed site in the Solomon Islands in 2019.

A reminder – oil pollution from boats should be reported to us as soon as possible on 07 55397350 or after hours on 07 55397373.