Media Release: Touw River remains a lifeline for the Garden Route
For immediate release 18 January 2024
“All river systems in the Garden Route are important in terms of water security and the sustainability of terrestrial and aquatic life and the preservation of biodiversity in the region, and the Touw river flowing through Wilderness is a prime example”, says Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).
The Touw River, with its headwaters high up in the Outeniqua mountains, is a vital freshwater resource to Wilderness and surrounding areas, and its estuary and river mouth is very a popular attraction to holidaymakers, recreational activities and form a significant part of the Greater Wilderness Lakes system. The Kingfisher Hiking Trail following the Touw river up the waterfall is one of the most scenic and frequently used regional destinations with literally thousands of visitors per annum.
SANParks, the Garden Route and George Municipalities along with a number of Wilderness conservancies such as the Touw River Conservancy, play a vital role in protecting the ecological integrity of the Touw River, and it truly represents the full bouquet of natural beauty offered by the Garden Route, to those visiting and residing in Wilderness.
As population growth in Wilderness and surrounding areas dramatically increases pressure on the availability of making the Touw River an essential part of natural infrastructure to those dependent on its well-being. As most river systems in the Garden Route, development, agriculture, land degradation and invasive alien plants in the upper catchment of the Touw River all impact negatively on the environmental integrity and well-being of the Touw River.
Risks associated with climate change, including changes in rainfall patterns, drought and floods play havoc with river systems, contributors and wetlands, which in turn affect all life dependent on them. It is for this reason that private landowners in the Garden Route increasingly have to play a role in protecting and conserving the environment to ensure that they retain a high quality of life and environment if the Garden Route is increasingly under threat of losing much of its splendour and biodiversity.
GREF will be placing focus on water security in the Garden Route in the build-up to its Annual Climate Change and Environmental Seminar to be hosted in June 2024 in partnership with NMU and the Garden Route and Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserves.
GREF is a public platform for conservation and environmental management entities in the Southern Cape.
Feature Image: The Touw River is a lifeline to the Garden Route
Photo: Pieter du Preez
Media Release: Public Red Tide Advisory Against the Consumption of any Shellfish or Washed-Up Marine Species along the Garden Route District Coastline
For Immediate Release 16 January 2024
Public reports were received regarding a red tide phenomenon in the coastal waters along the Garden Route district coastline. Reports received from residents at various coastal locations, indicates that the following areas along the coast are affected:
Storms River Mouth, Plettenberg Bay, Swartvlei Beach, Kleinkrantz, Wilderness, Glentana, and Vleesbaai situated in Mossel Bay.
As a precautionary measure, the Garden Route District Municipality’s Disaster Management Centre is advising the public to refrain from consuming any shellfish or washed up marine species due to the emergence of this red tide.
Marine water samples have been taken by the George Municipality to identify the species of microscopic algae that is causing the red tide, but for now it looks like the species Noctiluca scintillans, which is a planktonic dinoflagellate that can cause bioluminescence at night and taint surface water reddish-orange.
Residents along the Garden Route district coastline are advised against consuming any shellfish or washed-up marine life due to the recent emergence of a red tide phenomenon. Image: iStock
What are red tides?
Red tides are a natural phenomenon in coastal waters and are caused by a dense accumulation of microscopic algae. The algae species Noctiluca scintillans are not thought to be harmful to humans, but it is advisable to avoid eating any washed-up marine life and to avoid collecting bivalves (oysters, clams, and mussels) until the strain has been identified. The presence of algae blooms is linked to eutrophication, which is a process involving the enrichment of water with nutrients, often stemming from agricultural runoff during rainy periods.
The current red tide display is anticipated to persist for several days. Ongoing analysis and monitoring of the situation is prioritised to ensure public safety during this natural event. Further information will be available once the water sample test results are released.
Feature Image: Residents along the Garden Route district coastline are advised against consuming any shellfish or washed-up marine life due to the emergence of a red tide phenomenon.
Media Release: GRDM and partners conduct Clean-up, Education and Awareness campaign in Mossel Bay
For immediate release 08 December 2023
The Waste Management Section of Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), in collaboration with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment’s Local Government Support Section, CapeNature, Mossel Bay Municipality, Henque Waste, Transnet, Nestle and Aquelle, conducted a Clean-up Campaign in Ward 15 of Mossel Bay.
The aim of the campaign was to raise awareness about illegal dumping and the ‘Adopt a Spot Program’ for community vegetable gardens and the need for their conservation.
One of the most pressing issues facing our communities is Illegal dumping, particularly understanding how recycling waste works. The campaign encourages members of the community to take part in the clean-up campaign and to not dump waste illegally. Community members were encouraged to continue with their efforts to keep their spaces clean and they were informed about the importance of community gardens as part of the Program.
The clean-up campaign was conducted after the education and awareness session. A special message of appreciation was extended to all the organisations that were involved to ensure a clean environment for those living in visiting the area.
Did you know?
Dumped waste may contain harmful or even toxic substances, which may have health effects such as asthma or respiratory infections on humans.
The illegally dumped items might include needles that may be contaminated with HIV or Hepatitis. This is a big concern, especially for children who often pick up items while playing. This threatens their health since they may become infected with these life-threatening diseases.
Illegal dumping sites may also be favourable breeding conditions for Ecoli, which may also spread diseases to communities.
If there is significant unlawful dumping in certain areas, the chances for the spread of diseases increase dramatically.
Feature image: Representatives from GRDM, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment’s Local Government Support Section, CapeNature, Mossel Bay Municipality, Henque Waste, Transnet, Nestle and Aquelle, with members of the community, during the Clean-up Campaign in Ward 15 of Mossel Bay.
Garden Route environment suffers as SA economy shrinks
For immediate release 20 November 2023
“Maintaining a healthy environment requires money as any land manager will agree,” says Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).
Dealing with the eradication and constant control of fast-spreading invasive alien plants (IAP’s) in the Garden Route is a particularly expensive exercise, and although private landowners in the Garden Route go to great lengths to clear their land in line with legislation pertaining to invading plant and tree species management, they are facing an uphill battle as the costs related to petrol, herbicide and labour soars. Similarly, mountain catchments and rivers are badly affected by invasive species such as pines and wattle, and there simply is no longer sufficient funding available for authorities to effectively deal with the scourge.
Established some three decades ago to deal with invasive alien plants on a national scale and in the process generate much-needed jobs, the Working for Water Programme is not able to make dent on the spread of invasive plants in the Garden Route as less money becomes available from Treasury and state- sponsored business models to clear land in collaboration with supporting environmental management agencies proves difficult to implement, and with land cleared often falling back to historic densities as essential but expensive follow- up work is not conducted.
The advent of climate change enhance the presence of IAP’s on the landscape, and the accumulative effect this have on the destruction of bio- diversity and availability of fresh water resources lost from catchments and rivers systems already impacts on water security in South Africa. In addition, a warmer climate with hotter and stronger winds impacts on stored water in dams and reservoirs as higher than normal evaporation rates takes its toll.
The South African economy and the country’s ability to manage its environment is inextricably intertwined and critical to understand that if all in the country strives to a higher quality of life and environment, a prospering and fast- growing economy is not negotiable.
Food and water security is vital for the future of South Africa and all its citizens, and the dire state of sewerage management systems country- wide, polluted rivers and the spread of invasive alien plants deserves urgent attention.
During its annual Key- Stakeholder report- back event on 13 December, GREF will be highlighting some of the most burning issues related to environmental management in the Garden Route.
The Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) is a public platform for environmental management and conservation entities in the Southern Cape.
Media Release: Natural splendour awaits tourists to the Garden Route
For immediate release 9 November 2023
“Following an extremely wet winter the Southern Cape is showcasing is natural beauty, and tourists planning to visit the region during the festive season, will not be disappointed,” says Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).
Following many years of drought and hardship the Klein Karoo environment is also finally recovering and with summer in full swing, the region is flourishing with vegetation, ample grazing and dams filled to the brim. The Outeniqua mountains and the regional coastline still bear the scars of relentless rain and storms during the winter months, but nature is resilient and bound to recover.
The Garden Route is blessed with several custodians of its natural splendour, and with large areas protected and under mandated and private conservation management, the region will always retain much of its marine and terrestrial biodiversity.
Pro-active actions and initiatives by regional conservation entities such as the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve (GRBR), the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve (GCBR), the Table Mountain Fund (TMF), SANParks, WWF and Cape Nature collectively recognize the importance of conserving the global significance of the Southern Cape biodiversity. In addition to these recognized conservation entities there are numerous conservancies, governmental and environmental management forums and private and public nature reserves present and active in all parts of the region.
A changing climate will bring new challenges to the Southern Cape environment, and with almost unpredictable rainfall patterns new challenges are looming for the environment and the communities dependent on its resilience.
In addition, invasive alien plants dominate large parts of the Southern Cape’s environmentally sensitive mountain catchments, rivers and wetlands, and landowners are fighting an uphill battle in eradication and control of fast- spreading wattles, pine, Rooikrans and a myriad of lesser known invasive species which all pose a significant threat in terms of the destruction of biodiversity, water security and the ever-present danger of wild fire disaster as the summer heat is bound to dry out vegetation in the coming months.
In celebration of regional conservation efforts, GREF is hosting its annual Key-Stakeholder Report-back Event on 13 December in Wilderness, allowing regional environmental and conservation entities to showcase their programmes and initiatives.
The Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) is a public platform for environmental and conservation management entities in the Southern Cape.
Media Release: Clean-up & Education and Awareness – a cleaner, greener future
For Immediate Release
20 October 2023
A National Marine Week celebration was held yesterday by the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Waste Management Section in partnership with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment, Cape Nature, Mossel Bay Municipality, Compass Medical Waste, and TM Ndanda Primary School. The campaign was rolled out to raise awareness about the importance of marine environments and the need to protect them.
Pollution, especially plastic waste, is one of the most pressing issues facing our oceans. To prevent further damage to marine ecosystems, the campaign encourages students to take part in clean-up activities and reduce single-use plastic consumption.
During the day it was also stressed to the learners that they should keep their communities clean and recycle as much as possible. They were taught that every person can make a difference by picking up litter and getting into the habit of recycling every day. Small, consistent efforts make a huge difference if everyone makes them. Students learned about the different waste streams that can pollute our oceans, including medical waste and how it is handled.
The clean-up campaign was conducted following the formal educational and awareness session.
“A total of 56 bags of recyclables and 14 bags of mixed-general waste were collected. The number of volunteers, including learners and officials, was approximately 90,” said Innocentia Sikweyiya, GRDM Waste Management Officer.
The GRDM Waste Management Section expresses its heartfelt gratitude to its partners in success – Plastic SA, AQUELLE, and POLYCO, as well as all the dedicated volunteers and participants who contributed to and participated in the recent clean-up events.
“Your unwavering support and active involvement have been instrumental in ensuring the cleanliness of our environment. Together, we are making a significant impact on preserving and beautifying our surroundings, and your efforts was truly appreciated, “ said Sikweyiya.
Mossel Bay’s clean-up activities during National Marine Week included many interactive and informative sessions where learners learned about pollution and recycling.
Featured Image Caption: Stakeholders who participated in National Marine Week clean-up activities in Mossel Bay.
Media Release: Coastal degradation and flooding will require substantial funding
For immediate release 02 October 2023
“Degradation along the Western Cape coastline is well documented and is increasingly a cause for concern as valuable properties and infrastructure ends up either damaged or destroyed, and even lives are lost due to severe storm surges surprising the unsuspecting unable to move to higher ground and swept away by powerful waves. But what would be the long term effect of coastal degradation?”, asks Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).
Ironically, Marlene Laros heading up the Biodiversity and Coastal Management Division of the Western Cape Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEADP), in June 2023, did a presentation on coastal vulnerability at the Annual GREF Climate Change and Environmental Management Indaba explaining the indicators used to determine where the future high water mark would be and how drastic the implication to land owners and authorities would be in terms of climate change and sea level rise, and the most recent climate induced disasters causing billions of Rand to mend is a stark warning that the change is real.
The Southern Cape and Garden Route economy and tourism sector is highly dependent on its coastline, scenic rivers and lakes, forests and mountains, and degradation of these assets over time can negatively affect the allure of the region as a world class destination, and planning for change is paramount.
Regional authorities, including the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) and all the coastal municipalities are acutely aware of where their respective vulnerable infrastructure is in terms of exposure to storm surges and flooding, and where possible are already planning to move assets away from potential exposure, and not rebuilding where history no doubt will repeat itself.
Regular and severe flooding did hit the Western Cape badly throughout 2023, and the damage to infrastructure, agriculture and the economy at large, is substantial. Coupled with damage inflicted by storm surges and regular power outages caused by load shedding is not helping the regional economy as even the most resilient is affected one way or the other. Addressing coastal degradation requires substantial investments in mitigation and adaptation measures and may include beach nourishment, seawalls, and other engineering solutions to protect coastal areas. The long-term costs of these measures can be significant, and does not bode well for cash strapped municipalities.
Governments globally lack the funds to assist coastal communities exposed to sea level rise and the destruction of storm surges, and South Africa is certainly no exception. Fixing bridges, hard infrastructure and roads after severe flooding are extremely expensive with significant knock- on socio- economic impacts as products cannot reach markets and power and water security is compromised for prolonged periods of time.
From an environmental point of view, coastal degradation often leads to the destruction of valuable coastal habitats, including wetlands, dunes, and estuaries. These ecosystems provide essential breeding grounds and shelter for many marine species.
In summary, coastal degradation in the Western Cape, as in other coastal regions, has far-reaching and potentially devastating long-term consequences for the environment, economies, and communities. Addressing these issues typically involves a combination of strategies, including sustainable coastal management, land-use planning, climate change adaptation measures, and conservation efforts to mitigate the impacts and preserve coastal ecosystems.
Feature Image: Plettenberg Bay main beach after storm surge – coastal degradation and washed-away beaches caused by the 16 September 2023 storm surge leaves coastal economies dependent on tourism in dire straits.
Garden Route District Municipality and stakeholders collect nearly 500 bags of waste, including recyclable materials, in Thembalethu
Representatives from the National Department of Forestry, Fisheries & the Environment (DFFE), with the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs & Development Planning, Garden Route District and George Municipalities, Cape Nature and stakeholders from the Private Sector including John Dory’s and the Spur Foundation, embarked on a clean-up operation near the Schaap-kop River on 15 September in Thembalethu, George.
The clean-up operation included 65 Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) members, including a Working-on-Fire Team from George. The programme formed part of the Clean-Up and Recycle – South Africa initiative and was also part of the International Coastal Clean-Up Day that is celebrated in September each year. Approximately 100 participants, with the stakeholder representatives, rolled up their sleeves to clean up the littered area.
A few bags of waste collected at the site during the cleanup operation.
On behalf of CapeNature, Stakeholder Engagement Officer, Thabiso Mokoena, said that with the initiative and the impact of pollution on the environment, he hopes that it will inspire the community to do better in terms of how household waste is disposed of. Katt Perry, Senior Manager at John Dory’s, said that they have a vested interest in the project, and she stressed that “if waste comes through the river, it will end up in the oceans and eventually, we won’t be able to help the fish that are disappearing”. Perry thanked participants present for their hard work and said: “It takes that one person to make a difference”.
Dawid Adonis, Director for Community Services at George Municipality, during his remarks said: “We need to make sure that we keep the environment clean – we need communities to assist us to keep our environment clean and take responsibility”. In addition, he said: “Each and every one of us is an ambassador to make sure that our households use the bags and separate household waste as it will help the municipality to take less waste to the landfill facility”.
Before the groups went into different directions, each with refuse bags, GRDM’s Waste Management Officer, Innocentia Sikweyiya, explained the purpose of the various bags and what waste types are allowed in the different bags”.
At the end of the event, more approximately 320 black bags and nearly 50 recyclable bags were collected. Thank you to all stakeholders and participants who formed part of this initiative.
Stakeholders and members from the WOF and EPWP teams during the Cleanup operation in Thembalethu.
Did you know?
BLUE/CLEAR bags are used for non-soiled recyclable materials, including plastic, paper, cardboard, glass etc.
GREEN bags are for green waste, including organic kitchen waste such as fruit and vegetable peels, as well as garden waste, including grass cuttings, leaves etc. No soil is allowed in green bags.
BLACK bags are for ‘wet’ waste, things that cannot be recycled.
How do you recycle?
PAPER that CAN be recycled: office paper, newspaper and magazines, cardboard (boxes flattened), brown paper bags, take away containers (food removed and rinsed), milk and juice cartons (rinsed and flattened) and books (hard covers removed).
PAPER that CANNOT be recycled: napkins, tissue paper, paper towels, wax paper, laminated or waxy paper, punch confetti, carbon paper and stickers.
METAL that CAN be recycled: cooldrink and beer cans, food tins (rinsed clean), metal lids of glass, jars, aluminium cans, rusty cans can be recycled and recycled batteries (taken to correct depot).
METAL that CANNOT be recycled: batteries, motor oil cans, paint and aerosol cans, and tinfoil.
GLASS that CAN be recycled: all colours of glass bottles and jars, beer and wine bottles (rinsed).
GLASS that CANNOT be recycled: mirrors and windows, ceramic, crystal, drinking glasses and light bulbs.
PLASTIC that CAN be recycled: all plastics numbers 1-7 (rinsed), grocery and retail plastic bags (clean) and milk sachets.
PLASTIC that CANNOT be recycled: cling wrap, and polystyrene (is recyclable but no facility on Garden Route for now).
Media Release: Sod-Turning event marks a milestone for Regional Waste Management Facility
For Immediate Release 04 September 2023
In a significant step towards more sustainable waste management practices, the official sod-turning ceremony for the Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) Regional Waste Management Facility was held on Friday, 1 September 2023. The journey to this milestone began back in 2006 when investigations and processes for establishing the Regional Landfill Site commenced.
Sharing in this historic and groundbreaking occasion, were Executive Mayors and Municipal Managers and across the district, the GRDM Mayoral Committee Members and officials, representatives from National and Provincial Government, as well as engineering consultants and stakeholders from Standard Bank, Tefla and Zutari.
During his address, Municipal Manager of GRDM, Monde Stratu, gave a thorough background about the project. He explained: “Local municipalities have reached a point where their waste management sites have become exhausted, which is why this regional waste management facility is being constructed”. Further to this he said: “It was a blessing in disguise that the initial model did not realise as it saved GRDM millions of rands.
Stratu particularly commended the GRDM officials who have been driving the project to this point. “The resilience and commitment of all involved are paying off. And today, it is time to celebrate – despite what happened, we are still delivering on our promises,” Stratu emphasised.
In his remarks at the event, the Head of Public Sector- SA at Standard Bank, Timothy Mtlatla, spoke passionately about Standard Bank’s support to GRDM’s commitment towards green energy. He said: “Our institution remains focused on its purpose; our commitment is a profound purpose and is underscored by the meaningful impact to the community. We are serving the sector that serves us”. Adding to these words, Mtlatla highlighted that the event is a remarkable example and testament of good working relations. And for this reason, he said: “With this initiative, we foresee a future that is cleaner and healthier for all communities we serve”. Representatives from Tefla and Zutari also delivered their messages of commitment to the project.
Executive Mayors and Deputy Mayors from the local municipalities that were present, also shared words of support on behalf of their respective municipalities. Deputy Mayor of Mossel Bay, Cllr Cliffie Bayman, referred to this day as a significant step that is taken towards more sustainable waste management and environmental practices in a changing world of climatic changes and the now more common outbreaks of communicable diseases. With these words, he added that this event deserved to be on the 1 September, as it is the 1st day of Spring. He highlighted that “this is a season for new beginnings and the reason in which our environment shows the fruit of hard work – work that we have put in during the winter months”. Bayman in addition reiterated that Mossel Bay Municipality will take accountability with the GRDM to ensure that the objective of the facility is reached. In conclusion he said that Mossel Bay is a proud partner in full support of the project and therefore they are eager to see many benefits such as employment deriving from the facility.
Knysna Executive Mayor, Cllr Aubrey Tswenga, in his congratulatory speech to GRDM and participating municipalities, said: “Thank you for making the Regional Waste Management Facility a reality”. Tswenga, however, mentioned that more work still lies ahead to educate communities about waste management. “As municipalities,” he said that “we need to educate our communities to reduce waste to landfills. Further to this he urged the GRDM on behalf of Knysna, to continue to roll-out a regional educational programme to extend the lifespan of the facility.
Bitou’s Deputy Executive Mayor, Cllr Mavis Basukwe, during her words of support, said: “Bitou took a decision to participate in the project fully understanding the implications and consequences we would face from our communities and ratepayers”. As a result of showing leadership and the fact that Bitou fitted the cost implication in their budget over the years, she emphasised that “it is indeed pleasing to see the site is now finally under construction”. She thanked all participating municipalities and said that without them, the project would not have been feasible for Bitou alone and would have left Bitou in a serious predicament.
Executive Mayor of GRDM, in his keynote address extended warm words of gratitude to the service provider and consulting engineer, Tefla and Zutari, as well as to Standard Bank and participating municipalities for this legacy project. In unpacking his statement, Mayor Booysen added: “After today it won’t only be a legacy project anymore, but also a catalytic project, meaning that this project is a catalyst of what is coming”.
Mayor Booysen further referred to the realities of working together as stakeholders and said: “It is not easy for different municipalities to work today, as there are many aspects that can hamper initiatives such as this project. However, he commended Mossel Bay Municipality, especially Municipal Manager Collin Puren, for setting the tone on how government can work together and how intergovernmental relations should be executed. To the Deputy Executive Mayor of Mossel Bay, Cllr Bayman he said: “You went as far as advising us,” to safeguard a less complicated process. Given the background of the project, Mayor Booysen urged councillors, professionals, and ward councillors to be decisive when decisions are made. “When we are decisive,” he said: “The ratepayers would back us up, because they would then understand what they are paying for and not making their own assumptions”. He elaborated that whenever a proposal is on the table, councillors would ask “how the project is going to affect the rates and taxes”. He advised: “It is our duty as politicians to go and explain to the taxpayers and ratepayers why we are doing what we do and why are we making the decisions in terms of what it will cost them”.
An Inaugural Site Meeting and Commencement of Works took place on the 13th of June 2023, which saw the official handover of the site to the appointed contractor, Tefla Group (Pty) Ltd. Over the following weeks, the site was established, benchmarks were verified by a surveyor on July 11, and the refurbishment of an existing farmhouse, set to become the site offices, is nearing completion. Clear and grub operations, excavations and material stockpiling is underway on the access roads and on Cell 1A.
The Regional Waste Management Facility, once complete, will include a domestic waste cell (Class B) and a separate hazardous waste cell (Class A) to accommodate low and medium-hazard-rated hazardous waste. Other infrastructure elements encompass roads, stormwater pipelines, leachate storage dams, contaminated stormwater dams, offices, laboratories, weighbridges, workshops, and security infrastructure. The project also includes a 3-hectare portion that will be used for a waste tyre recycling facility. Both the Domestic Waste Cell 1 and the Hazardous Waste Cell will have a lifespan of approximately of 20 – 25 years.
The project’s timeline are as follows:
Construction Tender Closure (concluded) – October 25, 2022
Finalization of Debt Agreement (concluded) – July 2023
Contractor on Site (concluded) – July 2023
Operations & Maintenance Tender Award – October / November 2023
Completion of Phase 1 – February 2024
Estimated Completion of Project – March 2025
The sod-turning event heralds the beginning of a cleaner and healthier future for the Garden Route region.
Feature Image: Sharing in this historic and groundbreaking occasion, were Executive Mayors and Municipal Managers and across the district, the GRDM Mayoral Committee Members and officials, representatives from National and Provincial Government, as well as engineering consultants and stakeholders from Standard Bank, Tefla and Zutari.
Media Release: Oil spill sampling training and what you should know
For Immediate Release 28 July 2023
A debriefing session was held by the Garden Route Disaster Management Centre (GRDMC) after the December 2022 oil droplet pollution along the Garden Route beaches. It was noted that there is a need for formal accredited training on correct oil pollution sampling procedures. The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) managed to obtain the services of Mr Conor Bolas from International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Limited (ITOPF) to present this training.
On Wednesday, 26 July 2023, this training was presented via an on-line platform from their London Offices to more than 130 officials. ITOPF is a non-profit organisation that represents ship owners around the world and endorses a precise and operational response of oil spills, chemical spills, and any other hazardous substance spills in the marine environment.
In most cases spills occur within the ocean or coastal waters, however, they may also occur on land. Dr Bolas explained how the oil is broken down through a process called Chromatography; this process is a laboratory technique that separates a mixture into its original components. Once the oil has been tested, it is possible to know who is responsible for the oil spill based on the properties of the oil.
During the oil spill sampling training, valuable insights into best practices were received. The training, consisting of four sessions focused on Marine Spill Forensics.
Session 1 commenced with an introduction to ITOPF and the importance of sampling. The reasons for obtaining samples were thoroughly explained, and case studies were presented.
In session 2, Dr Bolas delved into understanding analysis, where a comprehensive overview of tests and standards was provided. To keep the session interactive, a quiz was conducted.
Session 3 covered potential complications and focused on sample considerations, including the required type, quantity, and quality. Additionally, other factors were explored such as laboratory capabilities, storage and shipping, oil weathering, legal aspects, and cost recovery.
Moving on to Session 4, various other factors were discussed, including the identification and monitoring of Hazardous and Noxious Substances (HNS), costs and compensation, taint testing, dispersants, wildfire and environmental monitoring. Emphasis was placed on sampling strategy, sample types, and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs).
In summary, Dr Bolas extensively covered the following topics:
The key reasons for sampling.
How to conduct proper sampling.
Types of analysis performed.
Understanding chemical fingerprinting.
Complicating factors in sampling.
Choosing appropriate analytes and considering the effects of weathering on samples.
Considerations for HNS and other specific circumstances.
Environmental monitoring and sampling.
Feature image: Image of oil in water
Did you know:
An oil spill is when liquid petroleum hydrocarbon is released into the environment because of human behaviour, particularly in marine areas. In most cases spills occur within the ocean or coastal waters, however, they may also occur on land.