Oil and fuel spills

Oil and fuel pollution harms wildlife directly and can remove vital oxygen from the water

Role of the Harbour Authority
  • The Harbour Authority maintains an Oil Spill Contingency Plan for the entire harbour
  • All permanent, operational Harbour Authority staff are trained in oil spill response techniques
  • Tier 1 equipment (for small spills) is available
  • The Harbour Authority has a contract with oil spill response company Adler and Allen to assist in responding to Tier 2 and 3 spills
  • Another potential source of contamination is the effect of pumping dirty bilges into the River. Incidents can occur with unattended boats when the automatic bilge pump is on. An oil absorbent sheet in the bilge may help to reduce this risk
  • The Harbour Authority’s responsibility is for clean up operations on the water below the low water mark. Shoreline clean up is co-ordinated by the local authorities. It is the responsibility of the landowner and, where identifiable, the polluter
  • The River Hamble has many important nature conservation sites and these are given the greatest protection from an oil spill. They are far harder to clean than boats and man made structures. Every effort will be made to minimise pollution reaching all types of potential receptors

There are fuel berths at Swanwick Marina and Port Hamble Marina operated by trained marina staff.

The skipper is responsible for ensuring the vessel is correctly and safely refuelled. Spills do sometimes occur, whether by accident or through negligence.

Skippers can reduce the risk of a spillage by following these rules:

  • crew should always be briefed by the skipper
  • establish how much fuel is required before you start re-fuelling
  • check and confirm which tank is to be re-filled
  • no smoking or naked lights
  • electrical supplies to be turned off
  • deck scuppers to be blocked with oil absorbent material
  • always monitor for possible tank overflow throughout re-fuelling
  • do not attempt to overfill tanks
  • nozzle to be attended throughout
  • ensure that a supply of oil absorbent materials is immediately available

Anyone found to have contaminated the harbour will be liable for prosecution under the Merchant Shipping Act 1994 and the River Hamble bye-laws.

Spillage on your boat

In the event of a spill on your boat you should:

  • not smoke or use naked lights 
  • notify fuel berth attendant and marina manager
  • attempt to locate and stop source of spill
  • inform Harbour Master’s Office (01489 576387 or VHF #68)
  • deploy oil absorbent materials. Do not use detergent of any description. It can be more toxic to aquatic life than the oil itself, and only disperses the spill rather than cleans it

For larger spills, if the size of the spill exceeds clean-up capacity of fuel, berth staff should:

  • inform the Coastguard - phone 999
  • call for additional oil absorbent materials (from Harbour Authority or other fuel berth operators)
  • evacuate non-essential personnel
Oil spill response

The River Hamble Harbour is close to busy shipping lanes and two major oil terminals in Southampton Water. The risk of pollution from any of these sources is a real one.

The River Hamble Harbour Authority’s Oil Spill Contingency Plan is specific to the harbour. It provides staff with guidance on how to deal with an oil spill incident within the harbour. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency inspect and approve it every 5 years.

The Oil Spill Plan is a ‘controlled document’ and is not available to the public. Certain chapters can be available to view at the Harbour Office by special request. External authorities, including the police and fire services, have controlled copies.

Report an oil spill

You should contact the following:

  • Hamble Harbour - phone 01489 576387
  • ‘Hamble Harbour Radio’ VHF Channel 68
  • Solent Coastguard - phone 02392 552100
  • Environment Agency - phone 0800 807060