The PREMIAM programme started life as a Defra-funded project aimed at improved post spill monitoring guidance and co-ordination. It is now established as a cross-government collaborative programme aiming to establish and maintain a long-term legacy of improvement in this field. It is co-ordinated by emergency response and impact assessment experts from Cefas (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science), has wide support from all key government stakeholders and fully engages the scientific and emergency response community in delivering its aims.
What's the issue?
Spills of oils and chemicals in the marine environment remain a significant threat. Therefore, the requirement for response capability, improved preparedness and effective post-incident monitoring and assessment remains undiminished.
Why the need for better and more effective post-incident monitoring?
- We need to ensure we provide early evidence of potential impact to government and the general public.
- We need to have an appropriate and effective way of investigating the impact on the wider marine environment.
- Impact assessment methodology needs to be considered that not only assesses the short-term impacts, but also allows the prediction of potential longer-term impacts.
- We need to ensure a more effective use of resources so that unnecessary procedures are avoided but that potentially useful ones are not overlooked.
- We need provide important information about the effectiveness, or not, of spill response activities including the use of dispersants.
These aims are being addressed through the production of expert guidelines for post-incident monitoring and impact assessment and the development of a fully co-ordinated mechanism for overseeing the practical aspects of the programme (e.g. survey design, sampling, analysis, interpretation etc.).
Following the Sea Empress spill in 1996 the Donaldson Report recommended the setting up of Environment Groups (EGs) to provide the response units with environmental advice and guidance. This has been implemented by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. However, the EGs are purely advisory, often transitory and do not have an established role in relation to monitoring implementation.
The establishment of an Impact Assessment Group was recommended in the Sea EmpressEnvironmental Evaluation Committee report but no operational monitoring and impact assessment co-ordinating body has yet been established. This programme is establishing the concept and co-ordinating mechanisms for Premiam Monitoring Coordination Cells (PMCC) for each UK country, chaired by an expert in the field, to fill that requirement. Amongst other roles the PMCC will be the body through which any monitoring recommendations made by the EG can be actioned.
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