The coast guard keeps an eye on the sea

Coast guard

Belgium presents new oil spill response system

On 4 July, the Marine Environment Service of the FPS Public Health demonstrated its new oil control system 'NOFI Current Buster 4', a fast and maneuverable system that can be operated by a single vessel. This pollution control tool was purchased with funds from the Environment Fund.

Image of the current Buster

The Current Buster 4 is a floating oil screen consisting of inflatable cushions, where the oil is collected in a large bag at the back. When this bag is full, the oil can be pumped over to another vessel. It is an important addition to the federal government's existing marine oil clean-up resources in case of an oil spill. "The major advantage of the Current Buster 4 is that the system can be deployed by one ship," says expert Rik Maes of the Marine Environment Service. "Another advantage is that the system can be towed at a higher speed than conventional oil screens and that it is very maneuverable, allowing it to be used in wind farms." The new system costs €264,000 and was purchased in Norway. The budget comes from the Environment Fund, a fund that is sourced from licence holders for offshore activities. The financial contribution that licence holders have to pay into the fund apply as compensation in environmental benefits. Saskia Van Gaever, Environment Fund representative: "All wind farms pay an environmental compensation for their impact on the marine environment. These compensations end up in the Environment Fund, which is used to improve the environmental quality of the sea, and to purchase resources to ensure that no environmental disasters occur at sea. Therefore, the purchase of the Current Buster 4 is a logical investment for the fund." The Belgian marine areas are among the busiest seas in the world. Every year, there are more than 66,000 shipping movements in the Belgian part of the North Sea. A collision or other accident, where ships with heavy fuel oil or crude oil on board get into trouble and oil spills into the sea, are among the daily risks. "We have made efforts at all levels in recent years to make shipping safer," said North Sea Minister Paul Van Tigchelt, "Yet the risk of a major oil spill is not non-existent. In the past, we have seen what dramatic consequences that can have for the environment - especially seabirds -, fisheries and the tourism sector. So it is very important to be well prepared. " When an oil spill occurs at sea, the federal government's Marine Environment Service is responsible for combating pollution. Therefore, the Belgian government has a whole arsenal of resources that can be deployed in the event of a major incident. All these resources are stored in Ostend.