The Coastguard Director is in charge of Disaster and Emergency Response. Operational deployment is coordinated from the response and information centre. The Rijkswaterstaat Sea and Delta project organisation is responsible for providing support and advice. Amongst other things, Rijkswaterstaat coordinates offshore oil spills and uses the Arca vessel to deal with such disasters. The organisation can mobilise a larger salvaging capacity if there are more serious pollution incidents.
Organisational structure when dealing with incidents
The Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment is the coordinating Ministry for the North Sea. In the event of incidents at sea, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment is the first point of contact and is in command. When incidents at sea extend to the landward side, or where other Ministries have a responsibility (for example, Economic Affairs), the Regional Management Team North Sea Disasters meets under the command of the Chief Engineer Director (HID) of Sea and Delta for harmonisation and coordination. This interdepartmental team, which is facilitated by the Departmental Coordination Centre Crisis Control (DCC) of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, focuses on the more administrative and strategic aspects of an incident. In relevant cases, they make decisions about matters that obstruct the control activities.
In the event of disasters in the Wadden Sea or in the Scheldt estuary, there is a direct line with the administrative (land) side, under the responsibility of the relevant safety regions. Rijkswaterstaat facilitates in combating the effects of an incident.
The website of the Working Group for combating Oil and Chemical Spills (Werkgroep Olie- en Chemicalienbestrijding) includes information about the materials that Rijkswaterstaat has available for combating incidents.
Coastguard in cooperation with Rijkswaterstaat
The organisation for combatting incidents on the North Sea is accessible 24 hours a day and takes action as soon as incidents occur that affect the North Sea. The Coastguard is the central point of contact and coordinates incident control at sea. This is done in close cooperation with Rijkswaterstaat service division Sea and Delta.
The 2006 Capacity Memorandum describes how to address environmental disasters in the North Sea. The level of control capacity to be used depends on the risks and on whether environmentally or economically sensitive areas are at risk.
Most symbolic in the Disaster and Incident Control at sea is oil pollution. There have been accidents with oil tankers around the world, some of which have led to oil spills of catastrophic ecological consequences. However, the Incident Control organisation is also deployed for other incidents. For example, to save people, to recover lost cargo (containers, deck cargo), to provide aid when a ship is stranded, when there is a collision or fire on board. All these cases require appropriate action.