SEATTLE -- As part of an international cooperation to prepare for a hazardous spill response on Puget Sound, Seattle District participated in the Northwest Oil Spill Control Course hosted by the United States Coast Guard, District 13 August 26-30. Other participants included National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Washington Department of Ecology, BNSF, ExxonMobil and the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation.
Puget Sound offers a unique blend of recreation, fishing and commercial traffic. If there is a spill, it can threaten wildlife, aquatic species, shoreline habitat and nearby infrastructure. Teams from different agencies train together to respond to such an event.
Environmental compliance program manager Brian Wilson delivered instruction throughout the week, while the Corps’ vessel Puget crew demonstrated deploying the U.S. Coast Guard’s Dynamic Inclined Plane (DIP) 600 Skimmer equipment near the Strait of Juan de Fuca while interacting with students and other marine response vessels.
Training is conducted annually and Wilson remarked on this year’s improvement.
“The setup of the DIP skimmer was smoother as compared to last year since we had practice,” said Wilson.
He also discussed strong partnership Seattle District shares with the other participating agencies.
“These multi-agency exercises facilitate a platform for continued relationship building and help identify response capabilities throughout the Pacific Northwest, while emphasizing readiness and collaboration across agency boundaries,” said Wilson. “Being able to communicate, execute, and deploy necessary resources are key. In order for us to understand how different agency policies, authorities, and response capabilities work, we must train and work together in scenario-based exercises, rather than during an actual spill event.”
This is a partnership that will continue to happen in order to stay prepared for a real spill in the future.
“We will continue to build strong, meaningful spill response capabilities and relationships with the USCG and other sister agencies by actively participating in training to support on-going efforts in protecting the marine environment and Puget Sound,” said Wilson.
The District’s Waterway Maintenance Unit Chief, Brad Schultz was also proud of the Puget’s crew in their performance.
“I am genuinely proud of the M/V Puget crew being able to think on their feet and adapt to overcome the challenges faced with this important mission,” said Schultz. “From operating the vessels in challenging and dynamic wind and current conditions to having the expertise to operate and troubleshoot the skimmer equipment, the crew and Salish Sea partners came together around this vital goal of environmental protection readiness and showcased our ‘team of teams’ ethos.”