By Mass Communication 2nd Class Jeffry Willadsen, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Everett
EVERETT, Wash. – Naval Station Everett’s (NSE) Oil Spill Response Team (OSRT) conducted a mock oil spill containment drill July 9-11.
The drill culminated three days of annual oil spill response training designed to prepare the OSRT to protect the environment in the event of an actual oil or fuel spill.
“We always want to keep the environment safe,” said Roy Arington, NSE’s installation program director. “It’s our job, it’s our duty, to try our best to get all the oil especially if it comes from this base.”
During the drill, white pads were thrown into the water near Pier Alfa on NSE to simulate an oil spill. Using boats towing an oil spill containment boom, a buoyant and flexible barrier used to contain oil on the surface of the water, members of the OSRT corralled the simulated oil into one area where it was sucked up by an oil skimmer boat.
OSRT consists of civilian employees assigned to the NSE Port Operations Division. The presence of such a team is a requirement of the state of Washington through an agreement with the federal government.
Though protecting the environment around NSE from oil spills is not their only job, members of the team are required to be trained and ready to contain spills 24/7.
Arington said mastering certain skills is very important to protecting the environment effectively, and that is what was practiced during the drill.
“How you corral [the oil], and looking at the tides … it’s very important that you know what you’re doing to stop it from going anywhere else,” he said.
The annual training consisted of hands-on instruction on handling the oil containment boom, operating skimmer boats, and operating pumper trucks. Different configurations of the oil spill containment boom were covered, as well as other factors to effectively contain a pollutant spill. Environmental factors of the surrounding area were also discussed as well as pre-planned response to certain types of spills.
“It helps to hone our skills and keep us up-to-date on new techniques,” he said.
Arington said there is a reason why the training and drill are done in the most realistic and hands-on way possible.
“If you drill the way you think it might happen, then you’ll be prepared,” said Arington. “People need to be able to go out there and do it”
Overall, the purpose of the drill was to ensure that the environment is protected and the OSRT is as prepared as possible for any situation they may face.
“We’re stewards of the environment, as anyone who works on the water,” said Ziemer. “It’s good for the environment, and ultimately the state requires it, so we better be on our game all the time.”