Spill response is based on an initial incident assessment which is supplemented, throughout operations, by regular situation updates. The results of this assessment determine the actions to be taken. However the options remain limited, and response often comes down to simply monitoring the pollution. Spill response operations at sea are complex and limited, but response capacities are developing, in particular through cooperation between countries.
When a major spill occurs, the general public is kept informed mainly via the media (television, press, internet, social networks). Communication is an integral part of crisis management.
Those in charge of communication work hand in hand
with the response coordinator.
“When an event occurs at sea involving toxic products, for me, the first thing is to quickly establish a
communication plan with the maritime authorities, in direct relation with the Prime Minister.
The specificity of my job is that it requires good knowledge of field operations and of all the media. I think you also need to be a maritime professional and be aware of what is happening at sea. This enables you to communicate messages to journalists in understandable terms and to ensure that there are no errors when interpreting positions and what is said by those in charge of response.
We are constantly preparing for incidents at sea through exercises. If an incident occurs and we feel it is escalating, we set up a crisis organization with a media room and a crisis management centre. This system enables us to meet the press onsite while preserving the work of operational personnel to avoid disturbing them.”
Commander Marc Gander, spokesman for the Maritime Prefect for the Atlantic, France.