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The River Hamble Harbour Authority

Refuelling, fuel spills and the environment

Fuel berths on the Hamble are located at Swanwick Marina and Port Hamble Marina and are operated by trained marina staff. The skipper retains responsibility for ensuring the vessel is correctly and safely refuelled, however spills do sometimes occur, whether it be by accident or through negligence.

Oil and fuel pollution not only harms wildlife directly but it can also remove vital oxygen from the water itself.

By following some simple rules when re-fuelling, skippers can ensure the risk of a spillage is greatly reduced.

Some simple rules

  • The skipper of the re-fuelling vessel is always responsible

  • Safety is vital and crew should always be briefed by the skipper

  • Always establish how much fuel is required before you start re-fuelling

  • Always check and confirm which tank is to be re-filled

  • No smoking or naked lights

  • Electrical supplies to be turned off

  • Deck scuppers to be blocked with oil absorbent material

  • Always monitor for possible tank overflow throughout re-fuelling

  • Do not attempt to overfill tanks

  • Nozzle to be attended throughout

  • Ensure that a supply of oil absorbent materials is immediately available

Anyone found to have contaminated the Harbour will be liable for prosecution under the Merchant Shipping Act 1994 and the River Hamble bye-laws.

In the event of a spill

If a spill occurs, however minor, the procedure is as follows:

  • Notify fuel berth attendant and marina manager

  • No smoking or naked lights

  • Attempt to locate and stop source of spill

  • Inform Harbour Master’s Office (01489 576387 of VHF #68)

  • Deploy oil absorbent materials. Do not use detergent of any description. It can be more toxic to aquatic life than the oil itself, and only disperses the spill rather than cleans it

In addition, for larger spills (i.e. size of spill exceeds clean-up capacity of fuel berth staff):

  • Inform Coastguard (999)

  • Call for additional oil absorbent materials (from Harbour Authority or other fuel berth operator(s))

  • Evacuate non-essential personnel

Role of the Harbour Authority

The Harbour Authority maintains an Oil Spill Contingency Plan for the entire harbour, carries a supply of Tier 1 equipment (for small spills) and has a contract with an oil spill response company (Adler and Allen) to assist in responding to larger (Tier 2 and 3) spills. All permanent, operational Harbour Authority staff are trained in oil spill response techniques.

Another potential source of contamination is the effect of pumping dirty bilges into the River. Unfortunately such incidents can occur, particularly when boats are left unattended and the automatic bilge pump is left on. An oil absorbent sheet in the bilge may help to reduce this risk.