Guest post: Green Bay oil spill skill drill

>By PA3 George Degener, Ninth Coast Guard District Public Affairs

The Coast Guard is an organization that prides itself on its ability to combine efforts with other agencies to safely and effectively manage a situation, whether it involves search and rescue, law enforcement or environmental protection.

These capabilities were tested in Green Bay, Wis., Sept. 9 and 10 when the Coast Guard participated in an exercise titled “Oily Tundra”, which dealt with the hypothetical release of 2,000 barrels or No. 6 Fuel Oil into the Fox River and spread into the Bay of Green Bay.

(Right: Unified Command role players plan the federal response to the hypothetical release of oil in the Fox River, near Green Bay, Wisc. USCG photo)

Role players from the Coast Guard came from Atlantic Area, Ninth District Staff and Sector Lake Michigan units, including Sector and Marine Safety Detachment Sturgeon Bay. These players, along with state and local agencies utilized the National Incident Management System and formed a Unified Command made up of the Coast Guard, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Brown County Sheriffs and Green Bay Police and Fire Departments.

The U.C., along with a staff of approximately 60-70 individuals working in two separate facilities, worked to formulate a plan to contain and remove the oil from the water while ensuring the safety of responders and the public. Using the experience and expertise of everyone involved, ideas were shared covering every subject from containment boom staging areas, locations where any wildlife could be rehabilitated and the enforcement of safety zones on land to protect the public from possible exposure to a hazardous material.

Exercises like “Oily Tundra” are crucial to success of the Coast Guard and its partner agencies’ efforts during an actual emergency. They allow those involved to learn about other agencies’ standard procedures and help to streamline response efforts. Inter-agency cooperation is a key factor in the success of the Coast Guard’s role in the protection of natural resources.

Tags: , , , , ,