RSK Raw Business Manager Ruaraidh McKinnon recently took part in filming for Sky TV for a programme titled ‘Sustainability in UK Spill Response’. The programme tackles the intrinsic importance of the spill response industry in protecting the environment, reacting to the challenges presented by climate change, and working toward a sustainable future.

Opening the programme, Mark Orr, Director of The UK and Ireland Spill Association, said, ‘We’re seeing infrastructure being damaged, partly due to climate change.  

The sea is rising, we are getting increasing extremes of weather, and there’s a lot of infrastructure around our coastline. So when storm surges occur (caused by climate change) you’re seeing damage to that shoreline infrastructure. Fuel storage and refineries that used to be a mile from coast now only have metres left due to coastal erosion. And when you get severe storms, they’re threatened.’ 

There’s lots of challenges going on, which are caused by climate change.’

Consensus across industry is that we all need to play our part in protecting the planet and working towards a sustainable future. The prevention and effective clean up of spills plays a significant role in achieving these aims and the spill response sector is working hard to find the most sustainable options. We know that pollution incidents can cause significant harm to the environment, water supplies and human health, and climate change can increase the risk and the impact of accidental releases or the harm that results.

During filming, Ruaraidh said ‘The prevention of spills is a big part of our business, and it’s something that we’re passionate about. So we can come and audit sites, provide advice and guidance on best practice, and even provide training for people onsite to manage small pollution incidents themselves.

Technology can be key to an effective response to a pollution incident… ‘Technology is of great benefit to our industry… one of our sister companies uses a helicopter-mounted LiDAR system, which allows them to survey large areas in a very short space of time.  

Driving to and from site is probably the biggest contribution to our carbon footprint, so remote sensing and remote working are key. We’re in the process of developing an app that we can distribute to our customers, so they can undertake an initial survey before we attend, using the phone they are likely to have in their pocket. This will help us to arrive for our first site visit better prepared and equipped’ – these innovations allow us to reduce journeys, fuel consumption and time, but also ensure a very effective response is provided immediately, mitigating the spill and protecting the impacted environment from further harm.

The programme explained how innovation is a proven method for tackling environmental issues and driving business forward.

On this topic, Ruaraidh said, ‘The biggest challenge around sustainability in our industry is cost. Sustainability doesn’t always come cheap, so we have to be able to help our clients and provide effective evidence demonstrating why one particular remediation strategy would be better than another.’ – the sustainability, effectiveness and cost of each proposed solution is carefully considered and presented to our clients in a clear and concise format to enable informed decision making.

I think innovation is key to tackling environmental issues. We don’t know everything in this industry, so we’re constantly looking at other industries and new developments across the world for anything that gives us the edge – anything that will make us more efficient, more effective, or more cost-effective.’

All of our team are passionate about leaving the world in a better place than when we first found it.’ At RSK Raw, ‘Protecting your environment’ isn’t just a strapline, it’s at the heart of everything we do.’

The programme first aired on Sky TV on 23rd April but you can still catch it here, or it will be aired again on Sunday 7th May at 10am on SKY digital channel 181. It’s a fascinating watch for anyone with an interest in our environment or a sustainable future for the UK.