Residents and visitors to the river area around Combwich and Steart Wetlands may see some unusual activity, today, Wednesday, May 15th, but they need not be alarmed.

As a statutory harbour area with commercial shipping, the Port of Bridgwater is required to have a Marine and Coastguard Agency approved oil spill contingency plan.   As part of the plan, every three years the port has to conduct an Incident Management Exercise involving external agencies.

One such exercise will be conducted today, Wednesday 15th May 2019, whereby an exercise scenario will be based upon an oil spill originating at Combwich Wharf. It should be noted that in reality the possibility of a spill originating at Combwich is very remote.

This is for exercise purposes only as per the requirements of the government and Marine and Coastguard Agency Counter Pollution Officer.  The exercise is being carried out by the Port of Bridgwater to test the Oil Spill Contingency Plan and the actions of all the responders, both internal and external parties, in the event of an oil release accident.

With increased marine traffic expected in the Port of Bridgwater, due to the building of Hinkley Point C, the plans are being tested to see if there can be any adjustments or improvements. This a routine exercise required by the government regulation.  All relevant parties have been consulted and made aware of the proposed exercise.

As the Statutory Harbour authority, Sedgemoor District council has the responsibility for environmental protection of the port. This continues to be a priority and there will be no harm to wildlife.   No oil will be used in the exercise and only biodegradable materials (oranges) may be used to simulate an oil release but this is so that parties could track visually the possible direction of travel of any ‘potential’ oil release.

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