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Algarve oil spill simulation to test local response

oiltankerAn oil spill scenario was created this morning by Portugal’s Maritime Authority at the mouth of the River Gilão in Tavira and was intended to asess the response to an accidental oil spill from an imagined collision between two ships sailing in opposite directions.

The simulation was started as a flood tide caused an out of control ship to beach in the cove next to the hotel Vila Gale Albacora which then leaked oil which spread into the Ria Formosa protected natural area.

In order to minimise environmental damage, actions to combat the imaginary oil spill were taken at three different points. The first was where the ship had ran aground, another was in a rocky zone further to the east, and another was next to the Tavira lifeguard station where the oil spill was deflected to protect an area of shellfish nurseries.

This simulation, Gilao 2014, was conducted by the Regional Maritime Authority and was aimed at "training, preparation, organisation and performance evaluation of the intervention teams from the Southern Maritime Department, the Port Authority of Tavira and the Port Authority of Vila Real de Santo António in response to this sort of incident, as well as to develop synergies with other authorities and bodies responsible for the affected area," explained the Maritime Authority.

This localised training will be no match for a major oil spill, the liklihood of which will increase if the government's plans for an offshore industry in the waters off the Algarve coastline are not halted and a proper environmental impact assessment carried out to calculate the income to the state and the loss of income to the Algarve's tourism and fishing industries.

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