Training ASEAN’s maritime officials [2008/01/07]
On the training vessel
To prevent ocean pollution in the region of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Japan Association of Marine Safety (JAMS), with support from the Nippon Foundation, recently brought together twelve officials from Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam at the Maritime Disaster Prevention Center in the city of Yokosuka, Japan, for training in how to handle leaks of hazardous and noxious substances (HNS). In addition to these individuals (four from each country) another 11 individuals, invited from the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia by the Japanese government’s ODA program, also took part in the training session. After five days of training, one trainee said that it had been “…very meaningful training. I now feel confident in responding to an incident.”
The structures currently in place for responding to HNS leaks into the sea remain even more inadequate than those for oil spills. The training sessions were intended, both to train ASEAN officials in charge of ocean pollution, and to build a structure for cooperation between nations. For Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam, this was the second year that such training has been held. The ODA program, on the other hand has been conducted since 1996, but this year was its last.
Trainees in yellow protective suits Trainees under instruction
Conducted over the five-day period from November 5-9, the training featured a mix of classroom and hands-on learning. The classroom sessions focused chiefly on the nature and identification of highly-noxious substances (HNS) and how to handle and dispose of them. The hands-on training taught participants such skills as the use of chemical protective suits, detectors and other gear. On November 8-9 they then used the protective suits in drills on board the training vessel Whale, in a simulation of an actual HNS leak. Although it took time for some to put on their suits for the first time, the full course was completed by noon on November 9. When the session ended, the instructors issued the following reminder to the trainees: “The safety of human life is the most important thing. Keep in mind that you cannot respond to a leak unless you know what substance was leaked and in what volumes.”