What would happen after a big oil spill at Langstone Harbour?

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WHAT would happen if a lorry crashed on Langstone Bridge and spilled 3,000 litres of diesel into the sea?

The pretend accident was set up to see how well-prepared people would be if such a major oil spill ever happened.

And judging by the swift response and the know-how of the team, we are in good hands.

The ‘disaster scene’ saw a tanker leaking 3,000 litres of diesel into the harbour.

Staff from Chichester Harbour Conservancy, Langstone Harbour Board, Hampshire County Council and Havant Borough Council had to jump into action to manage and contain the spill.

Oil booming equipment – floating inflatable barriers used to contain spills on the surface of the water which are held by the conservancy – was quickly deployed.

This was supplemented by a larger boom supplied by Adler and Allan, a company based in Yorkshire that specialises in pollution prevention.

The larger boom took just 20 minutes to get into place which would have effectively contained the majority of the spill.

In a real situation, the oil would then have been skimmed off the surface of the water.

Ali Beckett, information officer at Chichester Harbour Conservancy, based at Itchenor, said: ‘We do these exercises to make sure the guys are well-trained and if anything happens they can respond straight away.

‘It went really well.

‘If two boats collided there’s always a potential for a spill there. Lots of marinas have diesel and petrol pumps too.’

Richard Craven, Chichester harbourmaster, led the exercise.said: ‘We organise this training every three years. It is valuable as a way to test our emergency plans and to make sure that all staff are fully trained and ready to deal with any potential oil spills.

‘In such environmentally sensitive waters, it is essential that we work quickly to prevent or manage any significant threat to wildlife and vulnerable habitats’.

Mrs Beckett added: ‘This is the first time we have done it on Langstone Bridge.

‘The guys going in the water, it has all kinds of strange movements and currents.

‘The oil would probably go somewhere different than you expected.’