An annual oil spill response joint exercise, this year code-named Oilex 2013, was held on October 17 off Ha Mei Wan, Lamma Island, to test responses in combating oil pollution in Hong Kong waters.
Under the Maritime Oil Spill Response Plan, the Marine Department coordinated the exercise and other government departments including the Civil Aid Service, the Auxiliary Medical Service, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, the Government Flying Service (GFS) and the Hong Kong Police Force participated. Several oil companies and Hong Kong Response Limited also took part in the exercise.
During the exercise, response groups contained and cleaned up a mock oil spill situation involving a container ship anchored near Ha Mei Wan and leaking fuel oil from its fuel oil tank after a collision. Such a spill would pose threats to the nearby environment and facilities, including the cooling water intakes of the power station, bathing beaches and the nesting site of green turtles on the south of the island at Sham Wan. Response parties also conducted a shoreline clean-up drill at Tai Wan To on Lamma Island.
In the wake of the simulated spill, oil combat teams used floating barrier booms to isolate the damaged hull of the container ship while salvage teams transferred the fuel and patched up the leakage. A second defense line of barrier booms was also set up close to the shoreline of Ha Mei Wan to prevent the spill from drifting. The exercise demonstrated the spraying of oil dispersant from pollution control vessels and a GFS helicopter onto the sea, as well as the use of oil skimmers and equipment.
In addition, a joint depart mental Maritime Hazardous and Noxious Substances (HNS) spill response exercise was also held simultaneously with the oil spill response joint exercise. The joint departmental Maritime HNS exercise was organized by the Marine Department and the Environmental Protection Department to test the effectiveness of the Maritime HNS Spill Response Plan. The Fire Services Department also participated.