Recent accidents in European waters (eg. Prestige, Tricolor, …) have shown that policy makers are confronted with the occurrence of incidents that do severely damage the environment, irrespective of national borders.
The engagement of society for a sustainable management of the sea and the coast has lead at national and international level to increased attention. This is shown among others by recent changes in the EU legislation and from the request towards OSPAR for the development of appropriate risk assessments as mentioned in the Bergen declaration of the 5th North Sea Conference.
- Project Description
The Belgian Part of the North Sea is an intensely used marine area. This rather small part of the southern North Sea contains one of the most intensive merchant shipping routes in the world. Besides shipping it is also used for a wide, and increasing variety of human activities, which all pose a certain danger to the environment. The frequency with which incidents with environmental damage may be expected and the severity of these are however only poorly known or not known at all, which inhibits the development of appropriate measures for risk reduction.
The main goal of this project is to carry out a risk analysis of all relevant incidents with environmental damage to the Belgian part of the sea, the coast or the beaches due to human activities.
This general goal is translated into several specific objectives:
• Analysis of the different methods for risk analysis including the kind of information delivered as well as their usefulness
• Identify and analyse (as much as possible) all relevant incidents.
• Estimate the risk by assessing the probability of occurrence and the potential impact.
• Classify the different incidents according to their risk level and study the highest risk incident scenarios more extensively.
• Formulate recommendations to improve the safety level for the environment and to optimise the responses in the framework of the Belgian ‘North Sea disaster plan’.
• Translate the results of the project towards potential end users.
In the present study the following approach will be applied:
• The qualitative comparison of methods for risk analysis will highlight the advantages and disadvantages (applicability of results, reliability and uncertainties) of the methods available for each consecutive step in the risk assessment process. This comparison will be based on literature research, will focus on marine incidents and will also identify gaps in knowledge.
• The different activities which form potential risks for environmental damage will be catalogued and analysed, exploring further existing datasets and data available with authorities such as the Vessel Traffic Centre. This requires development of a geographically related dataset on distribution, intensity and characteristics of the different activities.
• Based on this listing, the different types of incidents that might happen will be studied. Event-analysis as well as incident casuistics, of the Belgian and adjacent waters, will be used .
• The quantitative analysis of the probability of the occurrence of incidents will focus on occurrence of shipping accidents and will use recent data. Methodology developped by DNV during the SAFECO I and II projects and the models they have developed (e.g. Marine Accident Risk Calculation System - MARCS) will be used.
• The environmental impacts at occurrence of incidents will be studied using available (ecotoxicological) data and using a sensitivity analysis of the affected marine, coastal and beach areas, maximising an ecosystem approach. A few selected scenario’s will form the basis of this part of the study.
• Combination of probabilistic results and effects in case of occurrence will result in a ranking of incidents using a multi-dimensional decision matrix. Criteria will be proposed and applied to classify the studied risks.
• The Belgian North Sea disaster plan will be studied and compared with the disaster plans of neigbouring parties of the Bonn Agreement. Results of the risk analysis will be integrated to identify possible problems. Problem identification will also take place by means of interviewing the key persons involved in implemention of the plan.
• Identified problems will be met by proposals for improvement and shall be incorporated in a newly drafted Belgian North Sea disaster plan.