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 51 of 102

49 Spring 2015 Proceedings The USCG was inundated with competing and often con- ficting scientifc requests and recommendations from the many nearby research institutions and from other federal and state agencies. That advice varied on fundamental points regarding the fate of the oil, response alternatives, and potential impact to the natural resources. So USCG responders asked the spilled oil research team to act as sci- entifc advisers. Formalizing Scientifc Support This informal science support proved invaluable, and the USCG and its National Strike Force began to rely on the team to coordinate the complex scientifc issues that arose at spills. In 1977, NOAA formally established a scientifc sup- port team to provide emergency spill response assistance to the Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This early spilled oil research team has grown into NOAA's Offce of Response and Restoration's Emergency Response Division (ERD) — a diverse team of chemists, biologists, geologists, information and data management specialists, and technical and administrative support staff. ERD per- sonnel provide federal on-scene coordinators (FOSCs) with round-the-clock scientifc expertise for oil and chemical spills in U.S. coastal waters. Scientifc Support Coordinators In 1980, the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollu- tion Contingency Plan formally recognized NOAA's scien- tifc support coordinators (SSCs) as a special team that can be called upon to support the FOSC. 2 NOAA SSCs also have a close working relationship with the other special teams such as the USCG National Strike Force and regional strike teams. The NOAA SSC provides scientifc information and rec- ommendations to the FOSC directly as a member of his or her command staff and works directly with many technical specialists in the environmental unit to coordinate scientifc NOAA's Emergency Response Division Building Better Capabilities for Response T hr o u g h o u t th e ye ar, E m e r g e n c y Response Division (ERD) responders and scientists conduct research and develop- ment projects that will better prepare the United States for the future, including: ■ decision-making regarding disper- sant use, ■ preparing for the challenges of a major spill in the Arctic, ■ emerging risks in the transport of oil sands and other oils, ■ improving models for oil transport and weathering. Researching Oil Dispersant Use The unprecedented use of chemical disper s ant s during the D e e pwate r Horizon oil spill raised questions about their efectiveness and potential envi- ronmental consequences. ERD partnered with the University of New Hampshire to develop a worldwide quantitative database of the toxicological efects of dispersants and chemically dispersed oil, conduct research to improve under- standing of chronic impacts of chemical dispersant and chemically dispersed oil on blue crabs, and research public concerns and improve risk communica- tion tools for oil spills and dispersants. Planning for the Arctic's Challenges Ongoing and accelerated changes in the Arctic, including the increasing seasonal loss of sea ice, have opened large areas of the Arctic for navigation and commerce and created new opportunities for trans- portation and resource extraction — bringing resultant risk for accidents, spills, and other environmental hazards. NOAA's personnel increased ef for ts to ensure that emergency response, damage assessment, restoration, and marine debris impact research and mitigation, can be accomplished in the Arctic. These eforts included additional staffing in Alaska, participation in the U.S. delegation to the Arctic Council, and strategic planning to identify critical gaps in the ability to be efective in this unique environment. Examining Oil Sands and Changing Oil Transportation Patterns Increased production and transporta- tion of oil sands products from Alberta, Canada, are dramatically changing the North American energy portfolio and receiving intense international scru- tiny. In 2013, ERD collaborated with the University of Washington to defne the risks the spill response community faces with the burgeoning transport of oil sands. The partners also examined the response implications of the rapid growth of oil production in new oil fields in North Dakota and Montana. Improving Oceanographic and Atmospheric Transport Models NOAA uses the General NOAA Opera- ti o n a l M o d e l i n g E nv i r o n m e nt (o r GNOME) to predict the possible route, or trajectory, a pollutant might follow in a body of water. In addition, ERD devel- opers and oceanographers have devel- oped an online tool (the GNOME Online Oceanographic Data Server, or GOODS) to allow users to download fles needed to run GNOME, base maps, and publicly available ocean current and wind infor- mation. NOAA's air dispersion model, Areal Locations of Hazardous Atmospheres, has also been updated and enhanced to better estimate how toxic chemical clouds travel.

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