Oil spill response on the Kiel Canal

12. January 2023

After the oil spill at the Ostermoor oil port, Höppner Management & Consultant took over the coordination of the response teams and cleaning of the affected areas and vessels, as well as assisting in the disposal of the waste.

A serious oil spill caused the Kiel Canal (NOK), the world’s busiest man-made waterway, to be closed for two weeks. The NOK has been open to shipping traffic again since January 3. Well over 300,000 liters of crude oil spilled at the Ostermoor oil terminal due to a pipeline leak. According to Schleswig-Holstein’s Environment Minister Tobias Goldschmidt, the situation is the “largest oil spill in more than 20 years” and posed a “highly toxic hazard” to humans and animals.

Under the leadership of the Havariekommando, the joint institution of the federal government and the five coastal states to ensure coordinated and joint accident management in the event of accidents in the area of the North Sea and Baltic Sea, Höppner Management & Consultant, a consulting company for occupational safety, environmental protection and management systems, together with its partner company Trade Waste International, took over the cleaning of the polluted areas and accompanied the disposal of the waste and cleaning water. The environmental and accident management experts removed the oil residues from the open water surfaces and cleaned the affected shore areas, appurtenances, port facilities, watercraft and the lock area from oil contamination. The company was deployed with about 35 people and also took over the coordination and administration of the damage control.

“During the cleanup, the most important thing was to be able to react quickly and coordinate the people and materials involved. We worked in parallel in many places, on the one hand to enable ships soiled by the accident to cast off, and on the other hand to reopen port areas to shipping traffic,” says Michael Wentler, Managing Director of Höppner Management & Consultant and responsible for the cleanup. This included soil probing at the discharge point. Fortunately, no oil has leaked into the groundwater, Michael Wentler emphasizes.

The consulting unit, which has been active in the market for 25 years, has extensive experience in combating oil spills and other maritime damage incidents and regularly cooperates with the General Average Command. One of Höppner Management & Consultant’s lighthouse projects in recent years was the collaboration on the specific disposal and further treatment of overseas containers with highly toxic chemicals as a result of the devastating explosion in the port of Beirut in summer 2020. “Accidents are always terrible events. However, the situation in the port of Beirut has exceeded anything we have seen so far in terms of consequential damage and errors in the storage of hazardous materials and dangerous goods. The proper salvage, handling and disposal of hazardous materials after accidents is one of our specialties. We have done everything we can to initiate the proper disposal of all hazardous materials and chemicals in the port, thus making our contribution to restoring normality for the local population,” says Michael Wentler.

Image Source: © Höppner Management & Consultant GmbH