Proceedings Of The Marine

SPR 2015

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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25 Spring 2015 Proceedings Well, never say "never." In March, I answered an early- morning page, to fnd that, sure enough, Miss March had grounded (ironically, in March). I came into my own during the Exxon Valdez response, and learned how to swing loads from Chinook helicopters; fg- ured out the language required to order DOD assets includ- ing C-5A's; organized check-in and -out procedures for local, federal, and state responders; created forms that captured personnel and equipment hours; and then converted that information into a billable format (used to invoice Exxon directly). Then in October 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake devas- tated the San Francisco Bay area. We were called out to use our pumping capacity to transfer more than 80,000 gallons of gasoline in a Richmond, California, refnery. All told, in 1989 alone, the PST deployed to more than 20 hazmat and oil responses, requiring more than 3,460 man days, and for our efforts, we received the Coast Guard Foun- dation Admiral John B. Hayes Award. About the author: Mr. Miguel Bella served in the Coast Guard for more than 21 years and retired as a chief warrant offcer. His assignments included CGC Resolute, two PST tours; plank owner for D11DRAT; CGC Hamilton; and fnishing off his active duty in San Pedro, California. During 9/11, he responded as a member of the CG National Pollution Funds Center, where he currently serves as a regional manager in the Case Management Division. Endnotes: 1. See Protective_Equipment_and_Decontamination.sfb.ashx. 2. See 3. The highest level of protection. have a way to track cost, I adapted the CG forms to ft the EPA's requirements. This provided a way to track all fnan- cial information for the case and would ultimately lead to the EPA's system in use today. 2 In July 1982, we responded to a waste processing facility in Escondido, Cali- fornia. Battling 107-degree Fahrenheit heat, the PST successfully made its own Level A entry, 3 with no outside sup- port, and categorized and secured a site that had been a community eyesore and health hazard. My teammates and I completed the frst PST entry in fully encapsulated chemical suits. I remem- ber being frightened, but I stuck to our training and to the task. As we exited the site and walked through the decon- tamination wash-down, I was glad to breathe regular air again, and I poured about a pint of sweat from each boot. The Right Stuf In March 1982, we were fortunate to have our PST facilities become part of the movie "The Right Stuff," which focused on test pilots. During flming, the PST crew sometimes par- ticipated as extras. If you rent the movie today, you can see the PST hangar in various scenes, along with great cameo shots of our bathroom. I returned to the Pacifc Strike Team in 1987 and found the unit spent about 70 percent of its time on chemical response, 20 percent oil response, and 10 percent on other stuff, includ- ing training and static displays. I was not there but a week, and off I went to assist with an asbestos hazmat site. During the following few years, I deployed to the western states, assisting EPA FOSCs with hazard categorization, cost documentation, and occasionally used my commercial license to drive 18-wheelers and other big rigs. 1989: The Year that Never Seemed to End Early in 1989, we responded to a call for assistance from MSO Honolulu, Hawaii. Due to a storm, the Exxon Houston was in danger of breaking from its fuel moorings. During that response, we noticed an Exxon calendar on the bulk- head. My teammates and I examined the vessels for January, February, and stopped short on March. We looked at each other and agreed that we'd never want to see such an enor- mous vessel in a real response. The Exxon Valdez was fne where she sat — on the calendar. A chemical storage site, Escondido, California, July 1982. SK3 Miguel Bella and MK1 Bill Price, frst Pacifc Strike Team "Level A" entry. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

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