A ‘fake’ press conference was held by Falmouth Harbour Commissioners yesterday as part of a mock oil spill scenario.

FHC held a media exercise at Falmouth’s Maritime Museum for Journalism and Photography students at University College Falmouth to see how Commissioners would deal with the press. The conference was led by Mark Sansom, Chief Executive at FHC, who presented the audience with presentations of two different incidents.


May 14th, 2010 – Incident 1
Press Conference: Peter Fish, Peter Morgan, Rob Yates.

A bunker merged in Carrick Roads has reported an overflow spill of 0.25 tonnes of fuel oil today, says FHC.

A boom has been deployed to try to contain the oil spill. Oil Recovery equipment has been dispatched and a clean-up will be in operation all day.

“We’ve got an investigation on the way to find out what the problem precisely is,” says Peter Fish, Deputy Chairman of FHC.

The receiving ship is being detained pending further investigation and Falmouth Docks have been mobilised. Harbour Authority have been notified and the Oil Pollution response Plan has been activated.

“We would not expect there to be, in the short-term, any impact on the environment,” he added. “No dead ducks have been reported.”

As long as wind conditions remain calm, FHC believe that the oil spill will be contained by the boom. The boom is an absorbent material placed on the surface of the sea that will contain the oil inside.

Peter Morgan commented that the FHC have contingency plans but, “You can never 100% prevent something from happening, it would be wrong to say we can,” he says.

Mechanical equipment will be used to recover the oil so that it can be recycled. Any oil not contained in the boom will disperse naturally into the sea.

FHC said that it is too early to comment on financial terms, but that it could be several thousands, depending on the duration of the incident.


May 21st, 2010 – Incident 2
Press Conference: Dave Ellis, Richard Reed, John Langan

The boom containing the oil spillage from May 14th has not achieved full containment, reported FHC today.

All efforts are being made to contain the oil which is trying to be recovered whilst it’s still at sea. The boom was partially effective and only a small amount of oil has spread.

An oil modelling software called Pisces is being used to try to predict where the oil will end up. The oil has not yet come ashore, and the software is predicting that there’s a good chance it won’t at all.

Commissioners commented that there will be a thorough investigation into responsibilities to determine the source of the problem.

Fundings for this further incident are currently being funded by Cornwall Council but FHC will later claim on the ships’ insurance.

FHC are unsure how long the procedures will take. “It will take as long as it takes,” said Commissioner Dave Ellis.

There are no current issues for the fishing industry in Falmouth.