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Oil Spill Response Limited Oil Spill Response Limited

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Throwback 30: MV Tasman Spirit, Pakistan

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of Oil Spill Response Limited, we will be publishing a series of articles covering our milestones. In this article, Jamaluddin bin Jaafar, our Spill Response Specialist, shares his memory of our response in Pakistan in 2003.

Tasman Spirit, a tanker carrying Iranian Light Crude, ran aground in a channel at the Port of Karachi in Pakistan, eventually leading to a spill of approximately 27,000 metric tons of oil. The evaporated component of the oil released VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and the oil reached the shoreline. OSRL assisted in containment and deflection booming, dispersant spraying, skimming operations and shoreline clean-up. Jamal, one of the OSRL responders who helped supervise 50 workers during the shoreline clean-up, shares his experience.

JamalJamaluddin bin Jaafar,Oil Spill Response Specialist

 “It was my first time in Pakistan, and this response was one of the first responses attended by OSRL and EARL under the global alliance.

We had to operate from a military airport for dispersant operations, so we obviously had restricted access. Intuitively, we made ‘friends’ with people, and observed who can help get things done, and who has the authority to provide resources, like providing a forklift for loading and unloading of equipment and having a supply of reliable workers for manual labour.

Communication was a major challenge. We had to set clear rules for safety and behaviour, and arrived at a common understanding with the local labourers that they should stop work if they were feeling unwell, or had taken alcohol or drugs; we also had to help resolve any misunderstanding between workers so that the work can proceed without disruption.

One of the challenges during the response was to convince people to use PPE. The brand new safety shoes issued to the local labourers were not worn, but instead, put up for sale at the weekend market!

I was responsible for shoreline clean-up at a section of a recreational beach, and supervised about 50 workers. I had to first observe the natural setting of the beach, and made an interesting observation that crabs were still burrowing holes, thus renewing the surface layer of the sand and burying the oil – the surface clean-up had to be done much more quickly!

Stakeholders were briefed daily at the end of the work shift, and there had to be obvious progress. Something as simple as the number of bags of waste collected everyday provided a visible difference and helped to keep the motivation and momentum during a prolonged response.

I left after a 3-week rotation, while other colleagues continued with the work until we were demobilised a few months later.”

Did you know? Clifton beach, which was impacted by the spill, continues to be a popular destination for both locals and tourists.