Monday, April 7, 2014

Earth ... pass it on: Spills Prevention

Spills Prevention Team helps safeguard Puget Sound

by Lisa Copeland, communications manager, Spills Program

They aren’t a huge team, but they have a tall order. The Spills Prevention Team is helping ensure our waters stay clean by keeping spills from happening in the first place.

On a daily basis, Ecology’s team of maritime and environmental experts conduct ship inspections (which includes fishing vessels, container ships, car carriers, grain ships, log ships, and general cargo ships) and passenger ship inspections on board ships of 300 gross tons and larger. These ships range in length of approximately 150 feet to over 1100 feet long.

Ecology’s Laura Stratton, vessel inspector,
reviews  required documentation for oil-spill prevention.
Inspectors are looking at the equipment used when bunkering (fueling from a barge), the process used during fuel transfers, procedures in place in the event of a spill, and any gaps that can be identified that increase efficiency and minimize the chance of human error.

Ships' officers and Ecology work together

“Vessel inspectors talk with senior officers on the ships that call in our waters,” said Laura Stratton, vessel inspector. “Our objective is to raise their awareness of the importance of preventing oil spills and serious marine accidents. The face-to-face discussion on how to accomplish this is what makes the difference.”

Areas of discussion include work and rest hours, preventive maintenance, emergency procedures, training, and much more. Inspectors verify that crews are following state and federal rules and they provide recommendations for improvement. But how do they know when they are successful? How does one capture the number of spills that almost occurred? It’s not easy, but every now again inspectors receive feedback like the following letter from YM that confirms the work they’re doing is valued and taken seriously. And who knows? Maybe a spill or two was avoided.

Letter from a ship's captain

Good morning!

With reference to the Vessel Boarding Evaluation conducted on board YM North at your good port firstly, I want to express my sincere gratitude for your valuable recommendations aiming at upgrading the vessels’ capability as to environmental protection and secondly, I would like to take this opportunity to explain what have been done in addressing the recommendations.

1. A fleet circular “EMD-140303-1 CIRC-Precaution of Bunker Operations in US port” was issued on Mar/03/2014 describing the said recommendations in detail and means to achieve the relevant requirements.

2. Washington regulations with regard to bunkering were studied and Information was gained by shipboard experience from Chief Engineers for the preparation of revision to the SMS procedures.

3. Revision to the SMS procedures with regard to bunkering was announced to fleet by an Observation List required by Company internal procedures to request shipboard staff to take such recommendations and Company instructions into consideration while making risk assessment for bunkering prior to the dissemination of the revised SMS procedures.

I really hope the above can satisfy you that YM always commit in the continuous Improvement in safety, health and environmental protection and please contact me if you have any doubt or advices in this connection. ~ Capt. John Ba;

1 comment:

Dorethea Simone said...

I understand from local Firefighters in the Vancouver WA area that we are not even slightly safe with Oil trains besides Coal trains zipping through our North West and as Registered Nurse, I personally picture horrible results due to extreme neglect here and nation-wide, frankly. I have already seen patients with severe burns and skin removed and do not want to see that ever again. Then all the 1940s Diesel engines moving this, I fear our Grand children will curse our memories. So backwards thinking!
Just a Nurse in WA, CA and IL