RAMOGEPOL Exercise off Viareggio 28-30 May 2024: France, Italy, and Monaco Collaborate in Marine Pollution Response

Every year, a RAMOGEPOL anti-pollution exercise mobilizes the resources of the three countries. This year, the exercise was organized by the MASE (Italian Ministry of the Environment and Energy Security) in collaboration with the Coast Guard and took place off the coast of Viareggio, Italy.

The objective is to realistically test the organization, coordination, and speed of response to pollution. For this purpose, numerous national and international actors were involved, and the most advanced response technologies and means were employed: satellites, drones, ships, planes, and helicopters specialized in anti-pollution activities, for a total of twenty-two assets.

The exercise began on May 28 with an alert regarding a pollution slick identified by satellites and a message exchange, resulting in the activation of the international RAMOGEPOL plan. On May 29, the actual decontamination operations were launched: a marine response operation and a land response operation, simulating the pollution slick’s stranding.

A double marine pollution scenario was simulated, one by hydrocarbons and the other by a potentially hazardous substance identified by samples as paraffin. The pollution slicks were simulated using natural substances (rice husks and popcorn).

For the marine response, national and international air and naval assets were mobilized, along with the use of drones. For Italy, participants included the MASE with the vessel from Castalia S.C.p.A., the Coast Guard, the Navy, the Guardia di Finanza, the Firefighters, and ARPA Toscana. Also present were assets from France and the Principality of Monaco, as well as a ship from the EMSA (European Maritime Safety Agency).

Additionally, the Prefecture of Lucca, with the support of the Tuscany Region, the Province of Lucca, and the Municipality of Pietrasanta, applied the necessary responses to address a simulated oil spill on the beach of Pietrasanta, employing about 30 volunteers trained by the Civil Protection Department and supported by ISPRA for SCAT (Shoreline Clean-up Assessment Techniques) operations and subsequent cleaning operations.

ARPA Toscana and ISPRA provided technical and scientific support for both land and marine operations.

Representatives of the IOPC Funds, an international compensation fund for oil spill response costs, were also present. Furthermore, the presence of international observers (the Pelagos Agreement Secretariat and representatives from Croatia, Slovenia, and Montenegro) facilitated the exchange of knowledge in anti-pollution efforts.

A debriefing on May 30 highlighted successful operations as well as areas for improvement to enhance international cooperation and effectiveness in the event of a severe marine pollution incident.

Credits : Ufficio comunicazione comandante generale Guardia Costiera