Shoreline Cleanup

Once oil reaches a shoreline it can have disastrous effect on the wildlife and ecology that inhanitates the area. Although natural processes such evaporation, oxidation and degredation will eventually remove the oil, by the time that comes about irreversible damage can occur. This is particularly important in areas such as the Shannon Estuary where numerous special areas of conservate (SAC's) exist. 

The Shannon Estuary and its approaches from the North Atlantic Ocean are areas of major commercial, environmental and scenic importance on the western seaboard of Ireland. Apart form the major sea bird colonies on the west coast and home to dolphin population, the Shannon Estuary holds the largest single area of intertidal mudflats in the country and this is of international importance for populations of wintering and migratory birds. The Estuary also contains significant areas of saltmarsh vegetation which grows near high water mark.

The shoreline of the Estuary is highly vulnerable to oil pollution which is difficult to clean-up from soft sediments. Six locations in the Estuary are proposed as Natural Heritage Areas. Due to their importance for birds several major sections of the Estuary are also proposed as a Special Protection Area under an EU Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds.

Physical processes, carried out by trained personnel, can significantly decrease the environmental impact of an oil spill

Shoreline response for the shannon Estuary is co-ordinated through the county council offices (Clare, Limerick, Tipperary and Kerry) in collaboration with Sea-Pt, the Irish coast guard and the defence forces. It is expected that during the exercise up to 200 personnel will be carrying out training and demonstration on the shoreline at Querrin Strand.

A stockpile of cleanup equipment, such as boom equipment, absorbants and machinery is maintanined by Sea-Pt in Foynes port in preparation for an oil spill response. Some of this equipment will be used for demonstration purposes during exercise 'Cathach'.

Additional large boom equipment belong to the Irish coast guard in maintained in Shannon Airport facilities. This equipment can be transported via the CHC Sikorsky S.92A Helicopter, with underslung load capabilities, from Shannon Airport to on-site location. It is planned that this underslung load facility will be operated for the exercise.

Large boom equipment, used to maintain and direct oil during a response, will be used for the exercise and will be deployed from the Granuaile in collaboration with the Celtic Rebel Tug.


image shows a wide shot of an oil spill exercise. We can see a number of people in safety gear on a beach with a huge black pipe.