Proceedings Of The Marine

FAL 2012

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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These modern analytical methods mea- sure different chemical properties of an oil sample. If two oils are chemically similar, they are said to derive from a common source. In nearly every case, oils from other possible sources are simultane- ously eliminated from consideration as the pollutant source because they are chemically different as determined by the test methods. How Is a Typical Oil Spill Case Processed? When a pollution incident occurs, a local Coast Guard unit will collect samples of the spill and obtain samples from pos- sible sources (vessels and shore facilities) in accordance with MSL's Sample Han- dling and Transmittal Guide.3 Most oil spill cases arrive at the lab by overnight shipping. The sealed boxes are opened and all sam- ples are accounted for by checking them against the enclosed chain of custody. Any discrepancies are noted and will be resolved by MSL personnel through consultation with the investigating unit. Also enclosed with the samples is a letter of request. This document tells personnel what the investigators need the lab to do The Marine Safety Lab History The Federal Water Pollution Control Amendments of 1972 assigned general responsibilities to the Coast Guard for the protection of the marine environment, including enforce- ment of the nation's antipollution discharge laws and regulations. To carry out these responsibilities, in 1973 the Coast Guard Research and Development (R&D) Center began to develop a system to identify pollutant sources. In four years, many analyt- ical tests and procedures were evalu- ated for their ability to distinguish all types of petroleum oil. In 1977, the R&D Center published its final report detailing the Coast Guard's Oil Spill Identification System. The Central Oil Identification Laboratory (COIL), established in November 1977, applied the system and was located within the R&D Center facilities in Groton, Conn. Legal Precedent One of the first steps for COIL and the new Oil Identification System was obtaining legal precedent for its "oil fingerprinting" technique. This occurred in December 1978 at a federal criminal jury trial, under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, involving spilled oil. In U.S. v. Distler, Judge Charles M. Allen ruled that "chemical evidence" would be admis- sible, thereby establishing the neces- sary legal precedent.1 A Marine Safety Lab forensic chemist and technician work to extract a sample from a hose suspected of being used to bypass an oily water separator. USCG photo. In 1979, administrative control of the Central Oil Identification Laboratory transferred to the Coast Guard Oceanographic Unit in Washington, D.C. However, COIL operations under the Oceanographic Unit were to be short lived when the "O Unit" closed in April 1982. At that time, COIL became a branch of the Port and Environmental Safety Division, Office of Marine Environment and Systems. The Central Oil Identification Laboratory then moved to the Avery Point campus of the University of Connecticut in Groton, Conn., in 1986. In 1988, COIL and the Marine Fire and Safety Research Staff merged to form the Coast Guard Marine Safety Laboratories. During 1991, control of the Marine Fire and Safety Research program returned to the Coast Guard R&D Center and COIL became the Marine Safety Laboratory. The Evolution As part of the Coast Guard's stream- lining initiatives in 1996, the labora- tory's top leadership position was converted from a commanding officer to a Coast Guard civilian supervisory chemist with the title of manager. In January 2006, as part of the Coast Guard's continued modernization efforts, MSL divested as a subunit of the National Maritime Center and became a headquarters unit under the Coast Guard's Office of Investigations and Analysis. Shortly thereafter, the Marine Safety Lab underwent an A-76 streamlined competition study. MSL's proposed most efficient organization won the competitive bid and began its first year of contract performance on January 31, 2007. In February 2009, the Marine Safety Lab, along with the R&D Center and International Ice Patrol, relocated from Avery Point, Groton, to the Fort Trumbull area in New London. Endnote: 1. United States v. Distler, 9 ENVTL. L. REP. (ENVTL. L. INST.) 20,700 (W.D. Ky. 1979). Fall 2012 Proceedings 49

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