MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Station spill response personnel, led by the Environmental Affairs Department, participated in a facility response training exercise to ensure top performance in the event of an oil spillage here, Aug. 4.
Typically referred to as Open Water Spill Team Training, the annual training is mandatory under federal and state laws such as the Clean Water Act and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.
“The purpose of the training is to evaluate our team and have instructor-provided training on the techniques used to properly and safely control and contain an oil spill that impacts the surrounding rivers,” said Timothy Lawrence, the spill response program manager with the EAD. “The training evaluates our effectiveness in implementing the functional emergency response plan outlined in our Integrated Contingency Plan for a waterborne spill.”
According to Lawrence, spill response measures are put into place to provide control, containment and cleanup in order to prevent injury and damage to personnel, property, and the environment.
“The faster the response, the more likely we are to recover and contain the spill before impacts such as shoreline contamination and fish kills occur,” said Lawrence.
The training ensures that all equipment is functional, the personnel are familiar with the equipment and can respond in an efficient manner, said Charles Herron, the instructor for the facility response training.
“At the start of the training, we go through some of the basic maneuvers,” said Herron. “Once the trainees have demonstrated they can complete the initial tasks, we go over protection strategies that are in the Integrated Contingency Plan, including placing a boom out and practicing how to collect the simulated oil.”
According to Herron, a boom is a flotation device with customizable dimensions that has a skirt underneath it designed to collect the oil in a horse shoe shape.
“We release simulated oil into the water, take a boom out on one of the response boats, collect the oil and scoop it out of the water using a skimmer,” said Herron.
Wooden blocks are used during the training as simulated oil to represent the spread of the pollutant.
“We work to ensure that all activities and operations meet the training requirements of the Marines,” said Lawrence. “It is done in a manner that is environmentally conscience and eliminates pollutant discharges that could impact the mission of the Marine Corps or jeopardize the safety of the surrounding communities.”