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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Page 37 of 102

35 Spring 2015 Proceedings the oil in the severe current conditions. So National Strike Force personnel deployed several OWOCRS, connected the ends of the booms, and anchored them in sheltered loca- tions. The oil was later recovered with pumps that could handle the viscous oil. This experience is the primary reason the OWOCRS was replaced with the vessel of opportunity skimming system and spilled oil recovery systems that have skimmers ftted with this type of pump. Shoreline Cleanup Oversight Although open-water recovery continued until the begin- ning of May 1989, the focus of operations became shoreline cleanup, which ultimately included six Exxon task forces, each made up of 800 to 1,000 members. National Strike Force personnel carried out initial moni- toring tasks on a USCG cutter, stationed in Prince William Sound. The goal was to have each task force team berthed on a single vessel that would also provide a platform for for- ward command posts and to keep monitoring teams in the general area of each task force, but separated to some degree from the Exxon task force management and their workforce. However, the support vessels provided did not meet the one vessel per team criteria. Fortunately, it also became clear that the Exxon task forces could be adequately monitored with smaller USCG teams. However, as the response progressed, the regular Coast Guard personnel, assigned primarily from Marine Safety Offces, were relieved by Coast Guard Reserve personnel who often had no marine environmental protection background and very little small boat experience. As a result, NSF personnel identifed any experience short- comings and developed training protocols for personnel at the outset of their assignment to ensure they were aware of the program goals, safety protocols, and other essen- tial information needed to ensure a safe and successful operation. Pick Your Battles Early in the response, personnel determined that Prince Wil- liam Sound shorelines and other impacted locations outside of the sound would not reach a level of fnal cleanup during the 1989 summer response period. Therefore, the goal was to only treat shorelines to remove potentially mobile oil, so it would not be re-mobilized during the winter. As one can imagine, there was some disagreement as to this decision and even more as to what constituted "clean." Therefore, federal, state, and Exxon offcials developed an environmental committee and created a shoreline segment completion checklist to guide inspectors and agreed that the Exxon workforce could not move to new areas until the segments they were working passed inspection. Finally, National Strike Force administrative personnel maintained records for the duration of the 1989 response to ensure that Exxon would reimburse the cost of the federal response. 1989-1990 Winter Maintenance and Planning Phase Due to the extreme weather conditions in Prince William Sound, the unifed command agreed that the cleanup would transition from the summer treatment phase to a winter maintenance program in mid-September 1989. This main- tenance program consisted primarily of personnel on off- shore supply vessels monitoring the shorelines, and if they were found to be releasing or "bleeding" oil, they provided maintenance as conditions permitted to control the release. The winter of 1989–1990 was also used to prepare for the 1990 summer cleanup phase, as NSF personnel held meet- ings with Exxon, National Oceanic and Atmospheric MK2 Dan Pearcy, MK1 Alfredo Valadez, and BM1 Scott Thayer ready the prime mover. U.S. Coast Guard photo. A view from the bridge of the Exxon Valdez. U.S. Coast Guard photo by MK1 Alfredo Valadez.

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