The Coast Guard were in action last week testing new equipment that sweeps up marine oil spills.
As part of the Environment Response Equipment Modernization Project, the Canadian Coast Guard detachment based in North Saanich has been equipped with a high speed sweep system, known as Current Buster 2.
The inflatable equipment consists of two long arms that start at a wide angle before moving closer together like a crocodile’s jaw shutting. As they shut, oil slicks floating on the water surface are pushed towards the gaping mouth of a roughly 15-metre bag, which collects the oil and temporarily stores it. The bag can hold 15 tonnes, before barges are needed to transfer the oil for more secure storage.
News from #BritishColumbia: Our environmental response crews were on the water in 📍 #Sidney this week to practice deploying a new high-speed sweep system. This modern marine response equipment was received via the #OceansProtectionPlan. pic.twitter.com/EdGDMoHbMw
— Canadian Coast Guard (@CoastGuardCAN) March 10, 2019
As the equipment is designed for harbours, tide lines and sheltered coves, the Coast Guard trained near their sheltered base on Patricia Bay.
“It’s exciting to get them in our inventory on the West Coast,” said Deputy Superintendent Environment Response Canadian Coastguard Jeff Brady.
“There are now four in the region and they sweep the oil like you can sweep bubbles in a bath to one area,” he said.
Brady says that thankfully the equipment is rarely used, but the Coast Guard still train extensively in case of an incident. Last year, the Coast Guard undertook a month’s training exercise on the east coast, which included extensive oil containment operations.