Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.
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26 Proceedings Spring 2015 www.uscg.mil/proceedings The 1990s���� by Mr. Mark G. Gregory When I arrived at the Pacifc Strike Team in summer 1992, I had no idea what I was getting into. My Coast Guard expe- rience at this point was on an icebreaker, an aids to naviga- tion team, and on a patrol boat. At that time, most crew members were Exxon Valdez vet- erans, and the strike team was all about big equipment . Dracones 1 the length of football felds, tractors, and trailers were parked all around the property. On-the-Job Training One of my frst jobs at the team was to dispose of a dracone that had been returned from Exxon Valdez that would leak oil when the sun shone. In Novato, California, in the sum- mer, this was every day. So really my frst spill cleanup at the PST was in the back yard, where I learned the value of lots of sorbents, secondary containment, and wearing rub- ber gloves. In October 1992, I participated in a large salvage/oil spill drill, in Valdez, Alaska. Here I learned the value of a can of ether, while hand-cranking a prime mover on a frozen pier. In January 1993, the area around Riverside, California, fooded, causing oil wells to leak. We assisted State Fish and Game personnel in contractor oversight during the oil spill cleanup. After this, I fnally got to make Level B entries at a chrome plating facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. We pumped all kinds of plating liquids into drums for offsite disposal. The owner had left a 1970s motorcycle on the site, so to keep up our ftness level, we pushed each other around the site on the bike in our Level B equipment. Oil Responses In March 1993, we pumped waste oil from a barge near Antioch, California. The next month, I arrived in Port Arthur, Texas, in the middle of the night and went to work on a barge, skimming oil. This was my frst time working for the Gulf Strike Team. They called us "pumpkin heads," because we wore orange hardhats. They would soon start to call me "Gulf Team West," because I spent so much time working with them. The next response was a classic example of some of the poor decisions that lead to oil spills. A facility owner cut the top off of his storage tanks for the scrap metal. An ensuing 11-day heat wave caused the asphalt in the tanks to expand and overfow into Philadelphia's Schuylkill River. So we spent the July 4 th weekend cleaning up the waterfront. In August 1993, I was in Tampa, Florida, for the response to the collision involving M/V Balsa 37, the tug Seafarer and barge Ocean 255, and the tug Capt. Fred Bouchard and barge No. 155. During this job, we pumped gasoline, deployed boom, skimmed oil, and just generally used most of the oil spill equipment in the strike team inventory. Hazmat Back to California, we worked an asbestos site on the gravel roads of Calaveras County, California. (Who knew asbestos is naturally occurring?) We conducted air monitoring and drove around creating a lot of dust, trying to fgure out how much asbestos was in the road material in a potential hous- ing development. We spent a month in Honolulu, Hawaii, in June, collecting paint cans from the bottom of Keehi Lagoon, conducting hazard categorization, and bulking them for disposal. In August, I was in Vancouver, Washington, where a plating facility had a leaking tank that was jeopardizing the city's water table. We removed the liquids and handed over the damaged part of the tank to EPA investigators for evidence. Back to the Gulf, I was in Houston, Texas, for San Jacinto food relief. This was huge, as we dealt with fooding, rup- tured pipelines, oil and gasoline spills, and a fre. We devel- oped some great alternate strategies to remove the oil and gasoline from swamps and forested areas, including burn- ing and building weirs to separate oil from water. We also collected orphaned hazardous material and conducted air monitoring. January 1995 started with a bang, when a tug and barge ran aground during a bad storm off Crescent City, California. We worked with a tug to pass a line and get them towed out to sea when the weather subsided. The following month, I went to Denver, Colorado, responding to radioactive and toxic waste in a residential neighbor- hood. We conducted site safety and air and radiation monitoring, while bulking and packing the drums to be shipped off- site for disposal. I had never worked with radiation before, and for the next year I returned to this site several times. DC1 Greg Schultz communicates with Pacifc Strike Team members, while aboard a tanker, 1991. U.S. Coast Guard photo by CG Public Information Assist Team.