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/264352
www.uscg.mil/proceedings 22 Proceedings Winter 2013–2014 R e s p o n s e Submerged Oil Response by MR. KURT A. HANSEN Project Manager U.S. Coast Guard Acquisition Directorate R&D Center Although there have only been a small number of submerged oil spills, 1 the environmental and economic consequences result- ing from these types of spills can be large. The underwater envi- ronment poses major response challenges such as poor visibility, difficulty in tracking oil spill move- ment, colder temperatures, inad- equate containment methods and technologies, and problems with equipment interaction with water. In the U.S. Coast Guard's experi- ence, the first oil spills that gen- erated a large amount of sunken oil (oil that accumulates on the seafloor) were in 1993, when three vessels collided off of Tampa Bay, and a spill in Puerto Rico in 1994. More recently, spills occurred when a bulk carrier punctured a fuel tank in the Delaware River in 2004, and a barge capsized off of Texas in 2005. 2 The techniques used to find oil in these cases and similar ones included using div- ers, sonar, and water sampling. Each method had its challenges, such as the time involved and inconclusive results. For example, sonar could identify changes in mass density, but its readings were uncertain once the oil mixed with sediment. Oil recovery was fairly primitive — using weighted sorbent materials and dragging them along the sea floor. After the first two spills, the National Academy of Science rec- ognized these issues and developed a report that provided a baseline for responders, and subsequently the Coast Guard's Research and Development Center (RDC) launched a multi-year project to identify and develop techniques to better detect and recover sunken oil. Sorbent material submerged oil recovery in the feld. U.S. Coast Guard photo. Winter �2013_45.indd 22 2/10/14 9:31 AM