Popcorn used in emergency exercise at Borkum Riffgrund 1

GERMANY: Project developer Dong Energy has used cinema snack popcorn to simulate an oil spill at its 312MW Borkum Riffgrund 1 offshore project in Germany.

Dong 'spilt' 30 cubic metres of popcorn in the emergency exercise at Borkum Riffgrund 1

Popcorn was used as it behaves in a similar way to oil on water, as Dong ran an emergency exercise at the project, 44 kilometres off the German coast in the North Sea.

The emergency exercise was carried out in partnership between Dong and the German central command for maritime emergencies (Havariekommando).

Turbines and the foundations also cause a change to currents and allow less space to navigate, so Havariekommando took the opportunity to practice at the project site in case of an emergency.

Ten specialised ships, one helicopter, two observation planes and 30 cubic metres of popcorn were used in the emergency exercise.

"As part of the emergency exercise, the Havariekommando practised different methods to catch the popcorn. The specialised ships with so-called sweeping arms as well as oil-booms, which provide for a barrier, were field-tested," a spokesman for Dong said.

"The reason for using popcorn is that in sea currents popcorn behaves very similar to oil. It is also very environmental-friendly, because if something is left over, sea gulls and fish can pick it up and eat it," he added.

Dong also used the exercise to improve its existing rescue plans. Borkum Riffgrund 1 was officially put online in October.