Twenty senior public officers participated in a recent training session designed to improve the coordination, management and planning of oil spill responses, according to Government Information Services.

More sessions are scheduled for next month.

“Oil spills are unique in that they require us to plan responses that swiftly protect the territory’s natural resources, safeguard our first responders, and investigate the scene in case there is a need for criminal prosecution, all at the same time,” said Joseph Smith-Abbott, the acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour.

The Jan. 9-12 training targeted high-level decision makers who must coordinate with responders from other government agencies, as well as international partners, non-governmental organisations, and the private sector, according to Department of Disaster Management Director Jasen Penn.

Such training, he added, helps the territory comply with the International Maritime Organisation’s International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation.

The training also complements the 2021 revision of the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan, according to Mr. Penn.

“As technology and best practices change, it’s imperative for us as a territory to improveour capacity to respond to incidents as well,” he said.

Taking part

Participants in the January training included officers from the ministry, DDM, the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, the VI Shipping Registry, the BVI Ports Authority, and the VI Fire and Rescue Service, according to a GIS press release.

The session was organised by the DDM as part of its annual training programme, with financial support from United Kingdom Maritime and Coastguard Agency through the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund.

It was provided by the UK-based company Ambipar Response, and it conformed to the requirements of the International Maritime Organisation, GIS stated.

The January training was “Level 3,” and “Level 1” and “Level 2” sessions for people who respond directly to oil spills are scheduled to follow next month, according to government.

Residents who suspect an oil spill has occurred or is occurring should report it to the VI Fire and Rescue Service by calling 911 or 999, GIS advised.