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Exercise on Eliminating the Consequences of an Accident Involving a Chemical Substance Is Taking Place at the Freeport of Riga

In order to check the ability to respond to emergency situations, improve cooperation of response teams in containing and eliminating the consequences of an accident as well as test new methods and technologies in containing and eliminating chemical pollution, the annual exercise EKO 2017 is taking place today within the administrative territory of the Freeport of Riga, in Kundziņsala, within the territory of Baltic Container Terminal Ltd. The exercise included the simulation of the spill of a chemical substance with a high hazard level on land area and in the Daugava River involving victims, which occurred as a result of a container ship accident.

The exercise tested the readiness of the Freeport of Riga Authority’s partner, Eko Osta Ltd., to respond quickly, mitigating the pollution caused as a result of chemical accidents involving petroleum products by using new methods and equipment: special pads that absorb petroleum products and are used to collect spilled petroleum products in the waters of the port, booms that absorb and contain petroleum products, and a special binder/absorbent for eliminating pollution on land.

The exercise has a different scenario every year: this year, it was developed based on the risk analysis of past years, using the possible consequences of an overturning accident of a petrochemical container as the basis.

According to the exercise scenario and legend, on 10 November 2017, at 9:30, a container ship overturned at the pier during conveyance within the territory of Baltic Container Terminal Ltd., damaging a flexitank container; as a result, an oily substance of an unknown origin spilled onto the land area and Daugava River aquatic area. The driver of the container ship suffered as result of the accident. Within the framework of the exercise, all the responsible response teams were informed. Once they arrived at the place of the accident, they started the evacuation of the victim and the elimination of consequences of the accident: identification and containment of the spilled substance and elimination of the caused pollution, using both a chemical absorbent and containment/absorbent booms in the water. During the elimination of the simulated pollution from the water, the effectiveness of a special absorbent pad — a new solution for mitigating the consequences of accidents of this kind — was tested.

During the exercise pollution was eliminated and used-up absorbents were placed in special containers and transported to Eko Osta Ltd. for disposal. Especially polluted places were cleaned up using a high-pressure washer and vacuum machine.

Within the framework of the exercise, specialists of the Freeport of Riga Authority and the Port Police, the State Fire and Rescue Service, the Centre of Emergency and Disaster Medicine, the State Environmental Service and Eko Osta Ltd. participated in the containment and elimination of consequences of the accident.

Commenting on the progress and results of the EKO 2017 Exercise, Valdis Voins, Head of the Port Police, emphasised: “Every year, the Freeport of Riga Authority organises practical exercises to test the skills of Eko Osta Ltd. personnel and check the sufficiency of technical means for eliminating the consequences of accidents. Of great importance is the ability of other involved services to respond quickly and act in a coordinated manner. The accident simulated this year is possible not only theoretically. The most advanced materials, which were demonstrated in a Latvian port for the first time, were used to collect the substance. The results of the exercise confirm the readiness of responsible institutions to eliminate the consequences of accidents. The management of the port pays great attention to environmental protection matters and measures related to the elimination of consequences of possible accidents. The work started must be continued together with partners, introducing the most advanced materials, equipment and the best global experience to the practical work. The key aspect of the system for eliminating the consequences of accidents is well-prepared personnel; therefore, exercises will also be organised in the future to improve theoretical and practical skills”.

“To eliminate the consequences of the imitated accident in the water and within the land area, German-made innovative absorbents for petroleum products were used; as a result, the spilled petrochemical product was collected in an effective manner during the exercise. This was the first time an actual chemical substance was used instead of its substitute during the port pollution exercise. Of course, this substance can be used during the exercise only if there are highly effective collection methods and technologies. With new materials used, the time to eliminate pollution is also significantly shorter, and the further spread of pollution is impossible under these conditions,” Armands Lazdenieks, Head of the Department for Elimination of Consequences of Accidents at Eko Osta Ltd., commented on the exercise.