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.
Issue link: http://uscgproceedings.epubxp.com/i/473008
66 Proceedings Spring 2015 www.uscg.mil/proceedings Assessors deemed the three vessels to be a substantial risk to the environment and public, as the barges and dry dock contained an abundance of dangerous oils and hazardous substances, including radioactive materials such as radium aircraft dials. With so many chemicals stored improperly in these unstable structures, the constant threat of an uncon- trolled chemical reaction, or fre, which would have dis- persed the radioactive materials, was a serious concern. In the summer of 2013, the State of California took posses- sion of the barges, but the scope of the hazards proved to be beyond the state's capabilities and funding limits. Ulti- mately, the case was federalized by Sector San Francisco with multiple other state and federal stakeholders supporting. After federalizing the case, Sector San Francisco quickly took the lead and requested technical assistance from the NSF's Pacifc Strike Team (PST). The PST mobilized to develop the mitigation plan, while managing site safety, supervising contractors, and collecting and sampling the hundreds of unknown substances removed from the vessels. The PST's 12-person hazmat response team continuously conducted air monitoring, radiation surveys of debris, hazmat extrac- tion efforts, and maintained technical documentation for chemical disposal. Most operations to sample and classify the unknown substances were conducted in Level B per- sonal protective clothing, providing respiratory protection via a self-contained breathing apparatus and protection from splashes within a chemical-resistant suit. The foating dry dock contained approximately 102 fve- gallon buckets of various chemicals, 86 of which the PST categorized and segregated for disposal. Approximately 35 fifty-five gallon drums of waste oils were recovered from the LASH ba rges, a nd t he PST conduc ted pumping operations to remove an additional 1,500 gallons of waste oils from one of the two barges. Further- more, the PST response team col- lected, categorized, and identified approximately 250 different chemi- cal substances from hundreds of con- tainers utilizing multiple chemical radiation-detection instruments. Working on responses like the West Sacramento LASH barges contrib- ute to the expertise of NSF person- nel to respond to unknown hazard- ous chemicals, as the instruments and procedures personnel used on this case are those they would uti- lize on a chemical warfare agent attack, radiological "dirty bomb" event, or for hazmat recovery mission after a natural disaster. Paper Mill Response In October of 2013, the PST received a request from EPA personnel to assist with the emergency response to an aban- doned paper mill in Samoa, California. During an assess- ment, EPA personnel discovered approximately 2.7 million gallons of pulping liquors (a caustic liquid used to break down wood fbers), approximately 10,000 gallons of acids and more than 9,000 tons of corrosive sludge, as well as a wide range of additional lab chemicals spread throughout the site. EPA personnel determined that the facility was an immi- nent threat to Humboldt Bay's pristine environment and designated the facility as one of its highest response priori- ties. In a further complication, some of the tanks had been flled with incompatible chemicals that were actively seep- ing through the tanks' walls and into the surrounding soil. Since the facility was in various states of decommissioning, many secondary containment measures were in the process of being demolished and were not available to confne any chemicals released. As a result, some nearby ground water puddles tested as strong as some industrial corrosives. The sheer quantities of hazardous materials on the property, the degraded conditions of the tanks, and the complete break- down of the installed pumping systems greatly increased the complexity of any proposed removal operations. EPA staffers employed considerable effort to fnd a com- pany able to manage the site, but they were unable to fnd The Samoa paper mill. Photo courtesy of Steve Calanog, Environmental Protection Agency.