30 April 2019

Liberia: Marine, Environmental Specialists Undergo National Training Workshop On Oil Spill Ims

Participants pose after the opening of the IMS training workshop organized by LiMA.

The Government of Liberia through the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA) in partnership with Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa (GI WACAF) on Monday, April 29, 2019 embarked on week-long national training workshop on Oil Spill Incident Management System (IMS) for marine environmental specialists.

The event, which brought together representatives from LiMA, Environmental Protection Agency, National Port Authority, National Coast Guard, will provide Liberia with the opportunity to have an effective Incident Management System that will strengthen its national oil spill preparedness and response system.

Daniel Tarr, LiMA Director for Marine Environmental Protection, told participants at the opening of the IMS workshop that the event will provide a complete overview of the incident management process with the opportunity to test the learning through an exercise.

"The exercise should allow the delegates to validate their new skill set and exercise the country's national incident management plans," he said.

Mr. Tarr, who is also the National Focal Point, said GI WACAF was launched in 2006, between the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and IPIECA, the global oil and gas industry association for environmental and social issues, to enhance the capacity of partner countries to prepare for and respond to marine oil spills.

He said the mission is to strengthen the national system for preparedness and response in case of an oil spill in 22 West, Central and Southern African Countries in accordance with the provisions set out in the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation, 1990 (OPRC 90).

To achieve its mission, Mr. Tarr told the participants that GI WACAF project organizes and delivers workshops, seminars and exercises, that aim to communicate good practice in all aspects of spill preparedness and response, drawing on expertise and experience from within governments, industry and other organizations working in this specialized field.

He said to prepare and implement these activities; the project relies on the project's network dedicated government and industry focal points.

"Promoting cooperation amongst all relevant government agencies, oil industry business units and stakeholders both nationally, regionally and internationally is a major objectives of the project during these activities," he added.

Mr. Tarr said that GI WACAF operates and delivers activities with contributions from both the IMO and seven oil company members of IPIECA, namely BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Eni, Shell, Total and Woodside.

Ms. Emilie Canova, GI WACAF project coordinator, who spoke on behalf of IMO and IPEICA, the global oil and gas association for environmental and social issues welcome participants to this year's national training on IMS in Monrovia.

"Today it covers 22 countries in West, Central and Southern Africa. Since its inception, significant progress has been made in improving spill response capabilities by raising awareness through national and regional workshops and training," she said.

Ms. Canova acknowledged the engagement of Liberia in the GI WACAF project.

She said the collaboration between the Liberian government and GI WACAF is not new by any means, and "I would like to recall a few steps taken together because the attendance of GI WACAF regional conferences by the national focal point, in 2010, a first National Workshop for the Development of the National Contingency Plan was organized; and more recently in 2016 a National Workshop on Contingency Planning and Sensitivity Mapping was held in Monrovia, which recommend to further include IMS in the NOSCP."

Ms. Canova said the present workshop will focus on the planning aspects of the IMS. "We will thus build upon the advancements already achieved by the Government of Liberia and consolidate the knowledge acquired in recent years."

She told the participants that the workshop is currently being facilitated by two consultants who are experts in the field of oil spill preparedness and response, namely Richard Sims and John Tulloch from Ambipar.

Ms. Canova therefore encouraged participant to interact with experts as much as possible during the workshop. She also thanked the Liberia Maritime Authority for facilitating this workshop.

LiMA's Deputy Director, Cllr. Charles A. Gono, who gave the keynote addressed on behalf of Dr. James F. Kollie, said the principles of IMS organization were developed in the 1970s by the fire service as management method for clarifying command relationship and making use of mutual aid for large scale incident involving multiple stakeholders.

Although originally developed to address fires, the IMS concept is now applied to many other types of emergency events or incidents, including oil spill response.

Mr. Gono said IMS is absolutely important because many incident happen with little or no advance warning, and require and immediate response by the industry operator and supporting response organizations.

According to him, major incidents, which are rare, may require a response involving many organizations, including governmental entities across multiple jurisdictions and experts from many disciplines.

Such incidents, he said, may also involve numerous parallel activities such as search and rescue, ensuring the safety of the public and responders, source control, fire suppression, protecting the environment, securing property and infrastructure from damage, and providing timely communication.

Therefore, an IMS is an essential tool for overcoming many of these challenges; it provides clarity in command and control, improves resource coordination and communications, and facilitates the cooperation and integration of responding organizations.

Mr. Gono said an effective and successful response requires a clear set of objectives. The objectives should be based on 'SMART' principle and they should be Specific, Measurable, Action oriented; Realistic; and Timely.

The event, which started yesterday April 29th, will be climaxed on May 2nd, 2019 at the Monrovia City Hall.

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