Environmental, scientific and technical resources
Environment, scientific and technical functions and resources in spill response.
Environment, science and technical (ES&T) functions and roles are identified in spill response management structures. Roles should be established and filled based on the functions required, the size and complexity of the response, the skill set of individuals and the jurisdictional/agency arrangements.
A number of technically competent people may be used to fill various roles within a complex response. To prepare people to fill the roles, a jurisdiction may also appoint an Environment and Science Coordinator (ESC).
ES&T experts may fill any of the following roles.
Specialist ES&T advisor to the incident controller or incident management team to provide clear, balanced and timely advice on any or all aspects of the ES&T response functions, including:
- spill and environmental parameters
- values, risks and priorities for protection
- input to response options
- contributing input to, and interpreting output from, decision support tools such as modelling and NEBA.
Specialist roles or unit coordinator roles within the intelligence functions, for example:
- technical advice
- situational awareness
- modelling and prediction.
Technical advisor within the planning, intelligence or operations functions, acting as an on-site environmental advisor with a view to minimising environmental harm from response actions.
ES&T expert response functions, roles, and positions often require diverse and significant technical capability, and may need to be sustained throughout an extended response.
Few response agencies have all the required expertise, so the ES&T network has been established to provide a national support group of highly skilled and professional scientists and technicians. Network members come from government agencies across all jurisdictions, from the ports, maritime and petroleum sectors, from academia and research organisations, and from the education, commercial and consulting sectors.
The ES&T network members are highly skilled and professional scientists and technicians, however, most are part-time in their response and planning roles.
The National Plan provides professional development opportunities to network members through an annual workshop, technical masterclasses and other activities to share skills and experiences and maintain and improve technical currency.
If you want to join or contribute to the ES&T network, contact us.
ES&T skills and resources—the life of a spill
Although every spill is different, the skills and resources required to address these tend to be reasonably consistent.
Spills and responses tend to follow a predictable path, even if the order or duration of the various phases may change based on context and circumstance. Below are the nine phases someone in an ES&T role might recognise prior to, during and after a spill incident and response:
- Before the incident—preparing yourself, getting your technical grab-bag ready, developing and testing the contingency plan you will operate under.
- Clarifying the incident—developing situational awareness of the incident and early response, and contributing to the early incident action plan (IAP).
- Getting established—understanding and working to the plans (contingency and IAP), assessing the risks, IC/IMT requirements and forward planning.
- Making decisions—responding to what you know, making recommendations/decisions and performing urgent tasks.
- Project phase—transitioning to the broader response, cleaning and waste management projects and program, contributing to the more consistent IAP, recognising that there are multiple parallel programs, timescales and outcomes.
- Scaling down—when to scale down or stop the response, endpoint criteria and processes.
- Essential paperwork—reporting, recording, archiving, claims, and sign-off.
- Going home—demobilisation and post-spill and response monitoring.
- The aftermath—post action reviews and inquiries.
For each phase, the ES&T professional will need to know:
- key contacts
- likely responsibilities
- expected actions
- resources required
- any forms, checklists and guidelines.
Planning and preparedness resources
Research and development
The National Plan continues to support research and development relevant to Australian interests. The research and development strategy is undergoing review. Previous research has included:
- Rapid dispersant effectiveness monitoring equipment to assist in spill response (2015)
- Use of vegetable oil based biodiesels as a cleaning agent for heavy oil spills (2007–2008)
- Bioremediation of oil spills in tropical Australia: with particular emphasis on oiled mangrove and salt marsh habitats (1999)
- Bunker fuel weathering and fingerprinting for investigation and compliance purposes (2005)
- Properties and relative merits of naturally degrading sorbents for oil spill response in sensitive and remote areas (2001)
- Effects of oil and dispersed oil on temperate seagrass species (2010)
- Investigation into the feasibility of applying magnetic particle technology to the cleansing of oiled wildlife in the field
Links for responders
- Oil spill monitoring
- Spill trajectory modelling system (STM) and proforma
- Oil weathering and ADIOS2 introduction
- ADIOS2 (NOAA automated data inquiry for oil spills)
- Canadian international catalogue of crude oil and product properties
- Dispersant response
- Oil spill control agents (acceptance, register and approval to use)
- Response, assessment and termination of cleaning for oil contaminated foreshores