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    Provide an in-depth evaluation of Oil Spill Contingency Plans in Australia, America and UNITED KINGDOM . Your evaluation should cover the following topical issues amongst others:

    1. The oil spill response continuum (i.e. the before, during and after scenarios);
    2. Oil spill modelling tools, their reliability and availability of environmental data;
    3. Properties of oil from each of the selected countries and how they may affect spill response efforts.
    Coursework Structure Guide (this is only a guide!)
    1. Cover or title page
    2. Introduction
    3. Main body of the work
    4. Conclusion References
    coventry-harvard referensing.
    include graphs and tables





Subject Environmental Science Pages 6 Style APA


Oil spill contingency planning is the process of developing the most suitable spill response which works in compliance with legislative and regulatory framework linked to oil spill risks. The complexity of the planning process largely relies on local conditions, type of operation as well as socio-economic and environmental sensitivities. Different countries have varying contingency plans depending on the nature of oil spill risks faced. In this report, the discussion narrows down to Australia, America and the United Kingdom. The in-depth evaluation will narrow down to the oil spill response continuum, oil spill modelling tools and the properties of oil in each of the mentioned country.

The Oil Spill Response Continuum

Response continuum looks at the arrangements put in place before, during and even after oil spill occurs. In Australia, the continuum starts from the spill notification point with reports being sent to the relevant port authority. Before any incident of oil spill, The Australian Search And Rescue (SAR) Rescue Coordination Centre is the one in charge of taking details of the ship and signs of oil spills upon receiving the reports. During the oil spill and upon its notice, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) takes the assignment of making response arrangements. AMSA is a self-funded agency in charge of facilitating the national response capability in case of marine pollution. AMSA takes the combat role and is, therefore, in charge of shoreline protection and implements the national plan in case of an emergency. One of the incidents that called for AMSA intervention is the Oceanic Grandeur (1970) which spilt 1,100 tonnes of crude oil along the Torres Strait. The conventional response called for first, prevention and safety, then spill response and finally, compensation, which comes after the incident.

While Australia is guided by an authority, America’s oil spill response arrangements are guided by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. Before any incident of oil spillage, the Act requires tankers operating within the US waters to have a vessel response plan (VRP). In case of a spill or during the oil spill incident, the tanker operators need to report to the National Response Centre before the polluter takes the responsibility of responding to the oil spill. If the work is beyond the VRP, the Federal on-Scene Coordinator (FOSC) is empowered to take the clean-up while appointing contractors specifically at the owner’s expense. However, when spills are of national significance, it should be noted that the National Incident Task Force is allowed to takeover. For the US, the spill response and compensation are almost tied together and almost come after the incident. Different from America and Australia, the United Kingdom’s response continuum begins with notification made to the immediate Her Majesty’s (HM) coastguard rescue centre, which is an action that takes place before and during the oil spill incident. Besides, during the oil spill, Response arrangements in the UK take the Australian model through implementation of the National Contingency Plan. The UK embraces the tiered approach with tier 1 spills attracting the attention of harbour or local authority, tier 2 calls for more than one authority and tier 3 attracts the national response. The UK’s response arrangements take the Australian version by organizing agencies and groups which have the capacity of responding towards the oil spill. Compensation comes after handling the incident with involved parties allowed to take responsibility.

Oil Spill Modelling Tools

Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States have significant ways of modelling oil spill response. However, such models would always differ in terms of the reliability and availability of the environment data. AMSA, in Australia, is famously known for using the spill trajectory modelling (MacKay, 2014). This would easily predict the surface slicks across the water surface. The spill trajectory model is quite reliable in terms of providing environment data due to the significant use of OILMAP and CHEMMAP for oil and chemical spills respectively. Data is aligned to shoreline stranding, sedimentation and adsorption, dissolution, subsurface and surface dynamics as well as evaporation. However, the model is subject to errors due to use of equipment.

On the other hand, UK has not shown any signs of outstanding tools and models for oil spill. However, it can presumably make use of international models such as OILMAP, 3D models and OSCAR, which denotes the Oil Spill Contingency and Response Model. Environmental data provided by these models include the Metocean data, output requirements, oil properties and the details of the oil spill scenario (MacKay, 2014). Similar to Australia, the US makes use of trajectory models with typical models being constructed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. One of the modelling software is the General NOAA Operational Modelling Environment (GNOME), which has the capacity of calculating movements made by fluid particles. Figure 1 below shows physical and chemical processes and duration which affects oil spills and movements used as parameters for GNOME.


Fig. 1: Physical and chemical processes and duration which affects oil spills,                                  adopted from “Oil Spill Model Trajectory Analysis of a Catastrophic                                   Scenario in Santa Monica Bay “by MacKay (2014)

Properties of Oil in Australia, America and United Kingdom

Oil spills and oil spill risks that have been reported in the United Kingdom, Australia and America largely involve crude oil. While most of the risks are realized when oil is on transit, the three countries’ share most oil properties. Crude oil is essentially tapped from the sedimentary rock found in the earth’s crust. It is largely constituted of hydrocarbons formed from the dead marine life. The primary property considered by the three countries is oil thickness. Once oil spills, it tends to spread and introduce layers (The National Academic Press, 2003). Oil that forms few layers may attract the simple use of sorbents, which absorbs the remaining layers after the top layers have evaporated. However, oil that forms a number of layer may attract more attention from the oil spill response teams and more so, call for national attention. Advanced chemicals such as dispersants are said to contain surfactants which can break the liquid substances into small droplets. Notably, slick thickness attracts the use of fire-resistant booms. Therefore, with increase in oil thickness comes with expensive oil spill response mission especially where a country applies tier approach. However, more attention is paid towards very light and refined oil products, especially by the relevant authorities in the United States due to safety risks.

Another property of crude oil is viscosity. Most countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia are working on skimmers, which can tackle American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) viscosity categories that run from I-V. Viscosity is commonly bonded to volatility and toxicity of the oil by Australia, United Kingdom and the US. Based on this assertion, the countries would easily determine non-persistent light oils, Persistent light oils, medium oils, heavy oils and the sinking oils. The non-persistent light oils include Gasoline and condensate. They are highly volatile and would evaporate within 1 or 2 days. Such oils rarely leave a residue and have high concentrations of toxic compounds. This means that the clean-up, from the oil spill response team, is regarded dangerous due to flammability as well as toxic air. This makes the oil spill response more expensive and more detailed for the purposes of containing the danger (Office of Response and Restoration, 2019). The second category extracted from viscosity, volatility and toxicity framework include persistent light oils, which include light crudes, No. 2 Fuel Oil and Diesel (The National Academic Press, 2003). They exhibit moderate concentrations of toxics and are moderately volatile. Clean-up for these category is regarded as effective and can easily be achieved by local authorities or lower groups of the response team. The third group entails medium oils, which constitute crude oils and IFO 180. They are less viscous and one third of it would evaporate within 24 hours (Office of Response and Restoration, 2019). Contamination of the immediate surroundings can be severe and long-term. This means that oil spill response should be immediate.

The fourth category includes heavy oils, which constitute Bunker C, No. 6 Fuel Oil and heavy crude oil. With this category, little or no dissolution or evaporation can be realized; there is also heavy contamination and severe impact to fur-bearing mammals. The oil weathers slowly. Shoreline clean-up for such oils is difficult under almost all conditions thereby calling for special equipment (Office of Response and Restoration, 2019). The last category includes the sinking oils, which constitutes the slurry oils and residual oils. This category has similar properties as those of heavy oils with long term contamination of the sediments. Dredging can be used to remove sinking oils from the bottom of the water. Viscosity, volatility and toxicity framework equally applies to America, Australia and the United Kingdom. Other properties include oil sorption, which looks at different sorbents that exhibit different capacity for medium, light as well as heavy test oils. Most of the inorganic materials are said to exhibit poor oil sorption. Most of these oil properties are considered by Australia and UK.


The in-depth evaluation provides a relook at oil spill contingency plans in Australia, United Kingdom and America. On the side of oil spill response continuum, the discussion provides different authorities, acts and agencies that play a fundamental role in response arrangements. On the side of oil spill modelling tools, spill trajectory models and software are commonly used to predict fluid surfaces. Finally, the discussion gives attention to oil properties which are put into consideration by the three countries, before determining the kind of an oil spill response.


MacKay, J.K., 2014. Oil Spill Model Trajectory Analysis of a Catastrophic Scenario in Santa         Monica Bay (Doctoral dissertation, California State University, Los Angeles).

ITOPF., 2018. United Kingdom. Available at https://www.itopf.org/knowledge-   resources/countries-territories-regions/countries/united-kingdom/

ITOPF., 2018. Australia. Available at https://www.itopf.org/knowledge-resources/countries-         territories-regions/countries/australia/

ITOPF., 2018. United States of America. Available at https://www.itopf.org/knowledge-  resources/countries-territories-regions/countries/united-states-of-america/

Glushik, L., 2017, May. Contingency planning for oil spills on water. Good Practice Guidelines    for the Development of an Effective Spill Response Capability. IPIECA-OGP Good        Practice Guide Series, Oil Spill Response Joint Industry Project (OSR-JIP). OGP Report     Number 526. In International Oil Spill Conference Proceedings (Vol. 2017, No. 1, p.      2017312). International Oil Spill Conference.

AMSA. 2018. Spill trajectory modelling. Available at https://www.amsa.gov.au/marine-    environment/pollution-response/spill-trajectory-modelling

Gilbert, T.D., 1999, April. Oil spills in the Australian marine environment: environmental consequences and response technologies. In Proceedings of the Australian Oil and Gas           Conference’, Perth, Western Australia (pp. 22-23).

Federici, C. and Mintz, J., 2014. Oil properties and their impact on spill response options.             https://www.bsee.gov/sites/bsee.gov/files/osrr-oil-spill-response-research/1017aa.pdf

Office of Response and Restoration., 2019. Oil types. Available at https://response.restoration.noaa.gov/oil-and-chemical-spills/oil-spills/oil-types.html

The National Academic Press., 2003. Chapter 4: Behaviour and Fate of Oil. Available at             https://www.nap.edu/read/10388/chapter/5



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