Department of Ecology News Release - June 25, 2010
OLYMPIA ─ If you are in the Kalama area on June 29, 2010, and see a flurry of activity on the Columbia River, there should be no cause for alarm.
Private spill response boats and recovery vessels will be deploying oil boom barriers and tracking buoys and other gear in a test of their ability to quickly deploy equipment in the event of an actual oil spill.
No oil will be used for next Tuesday’s exercise.
The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) will test how well several state-regulated companies can implement their oil spill preparedness plans, including coordinating actions and quickly mobilizing equipment to effectively respond to an oil spill.
This planned drill is being conducted by the Marine Spill Response Corp., a private, non-profit contractor providing oil-spill response services for 20 companies in Washington.
Drill participants include the barge-towing operation Harley Marine Services Inc. of Seattle and oil shipping companies Polar Tankers Inc., SeaRiver Maritime Inc., and Alaska Tanker Co.
All of these companies operate on the Columbia River and maintain mandatory oil-spill contingency plans that spell out how they will respond to oil spills, using geographic-based response plans that are tailored to help reduce adverse effects on sensitive natural, cultural and economic resources in an area.
The Columbia River is a particularly challenging location for the exercise. Shifting sediments can make navigation tricky and participants may have to work in swiftly moving water. Oil tankers, fuel barges, and large cargo vessels make more than 2,300 transits a year in the Columbia River.
A major oil spill on this waterway would have catastrophic impacts. For that reason, it is essential that the companies responsible for carrying millions of gallons of oil onto this river system are prepared to mount a rapid, aggressive, well coordinated response.
Media Contact: Curt Hart, 360-407-6990; cell, 380-480-7908 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
For more information:
- Ecology Spill Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Program: www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/spills/spills.html
- More about Ecology’s spill drills: www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/spills/preparedness/Drills/drills.html
- 2009 Vessel Entries and Transits for Washington Waters: www.ecy.wa.gov/pubs/1008004.pdf
- Ecology in Focus: Spill Readiness Drill, Richland, Washington: www.youtube.com/watch?v=V51nf47zyEY