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Oil spill microbiology expertise at Essex included in special guidelines

29 March 2018

Image of oil slick

Experts in oil spill microbiology at the University of Essex have contributed to updated national guidelines which strengthen how prepared the UK is to respond to oil and chemical spills at sea.

Eastern ARC Fellow Dr Boyd McKew and Dr Terry McGenity, from the School of Biological Sciences at Essex, were contributing authors to the updated 2nd edition of PREMIAM guidelines (Pollution Response in Emergencies: Marine Impact Assessment and Monitoring).

The post-incident monitoring guidelines are a key output from the PREMIAM initiative, which was established in 2009.

The comprehensive guidelines are to help the design and management of post-spill environmental monitoring; determine impact to marine food chains, ecosystems and resources; gather data to help establish the effectiveness of response and promote scientific best-practice. They are supported by over 20 UK government partners and several industry organisations.

Dr McKew, who is one of the UK’s leading experts in oil spill microbiology, said: “The PREMIAM guidelines are an excellent resource to help design management and monitoring strategies following marine oil spills. It was great to be involved in this large collaborative effort and we were particularly pleased to contribute expertise in the monitoring of microbes affected by oil spills, which is one of our key research themes at the University of Essex.”

Chemical and oil spills in the marine environment remain a significant threat. Rapid response, improved preparedness and effective post-incident monitoring and assessment are all key parts of an effective response and these guidelines and other outputs from the project will continue help to deliver that for the UK.

The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science’s Mark Kirby, the PREMIAM initiative chair, said: “The publication of this updated edition of the PREMIAM guidelines is another significant milestone for the PREMIAM initiative. Since its initiation in 2009 we have worked to promote best practice on post-spill environmental monitoring both with respect to the application of sound science but also in terms of preparedness and management processes needed to enable its application.

“We are particularly proud to acknowledge the substantial amount of collaboration and feedback from across UK government and related industry that has resulted in the publication of these guidelines. By making them freely available we aim to continue to make a significant contribution to the UKs ability to respond to and assess the significance of marine spills.”