TABUK In an effort to safeguard its vital coastlines, Saudi Arabia on Tuesday initiated "Response 14", a two-day training drill along the shores of the Tabuk Region focused on responding to marine oil spills and other environmental hazards. Supervised by the National Center for Environmental Compliance, the exercise was attended by 39 public and private entities.

This drill is part of an ongoing series designed to bolster national readiness for environmental emergencies. Saad Al-Matrafi, spokesperson for the center, stated that the program "has demonstrably enhanced participants’ preparedness".

"We have seen a clear improvement in readiness with each exercise," Al-Matrafi noted. "This goes beyond just technology – it is about mobilizing national talent from across environmental, security, and industrial sectors, along with major national companies."

The multi-phased exercise employed cutting-edge technology. The first stage utilized satellites and advanced simulations, followed by a simulated pollution scenario unfolding in territorial waters and impacting both coasts and marine life. The final phase assessed participating entities' ability to contain the simulated spill within record time, thus minimizing environmental and economic damage.

"The exercise evaluated our ability to control the situation, manage waste disposal, and conduct effective rehabilitation and damage assessment," Al-Matrafi said. The national plan, he added, successfully simulated containing a 75,000-barrel spill within a remarkable 50 minutes by deploying a dedicated fleet of naval units, a diverse range of mission aircraft (including aerial surveyors and dispersant sprayers), and cutting-edge equipment like skimmers, designed for efficient oil collection.

“These exercises underscore the country's unwavering commitment to protecting its marine environment and vital waterways from any potential environmental threats, ensuring their long-term sustainability,” he said.

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