The Braer - The Initial Response
Between 07:00 and 11:00 on the 5th January, three emergency centres were set up: the Shetland Islands Council (SIC) at the Marine Operations Department as part of the oil spill response, provisionally as a Joint Response Centre (JRC), the Marine Pollution Control Unit at Sunley House, London, again as part of the oil spill response and the SIC at the lsleburgh Centre in Lerwick as part of the SIC Emergency Plan.
All the related groups concerned with the oil spill plan were contacted and following an offer from the management of Sumburgh Airport a JRC was set up there. The emergency response centre at Marine Operations was then stood down. During this time the Wildlife Response Co-ordinating Committee (WRCC) established a Wildlife Response Centre (WRC) at the Boddam Scout Hut, some 3 miles north of Sumburgh Airport, for the collection and possible rehabilitation of birds, and shortly after, the SIC decided to move its control centre to Sumburgh Airport, thereby centralising the response effort. The Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary where live Seals and Otters would be taken for rehabilitation was still fairly undeveloped at the time, but a small army of volunteers set to work on it, and it was up and running by the end of the first week of the spill.
A cartoon of the media invasion following the spill that appeared in the Shetland Times in January 1993.
Cartoon by SMIRK INK
Following the spill, in a Parliamentary statement on the wreck of the Braer, the Secretary of State for Scotland, the Rt. Hon. lan Lang PC MP, announced on the 26th January 1993 his decision to appoint an Ecological Steering Group on the oil spill in Shetland (ESGOSS), to look at the environmental impact of the spill. The ESGOSS terms of reference are as follows:
1 To monitor environmental work arising from the incident and to provide a focus for liaison and advice.
2 To assess the impact of the incident on the ecology of the Shetland Isles.
3 To develop urgently the best strategies in the short and longer terms for dealing with the implications of the incident as they affect the ecology of the Shetland Isles and to report to the Secretary of State for Scotland on these at an early date.
4 To oversee special studies for monitoring the impact on and subsequent recovery of the environment in order to advise the Government of the lessons to be learned which could be applied more widely, whether in the United Kingdom or elsewhere.
ESGOSS has now produced a report on the effects of the Braer, it is available from: The Library, The Scottish Office, New St. Andrew's House,
Edinburgh, EH1 3TG, price £15.00.
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