OIL SPILL RESPONSE PLAN

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1 OIL SPILL RESPONSE PLAN Office of Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas (CAMA) September 2012 Background In April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in a three-month long spill event that released an estimated 4.9 million barrels of crude oil, the largest accidental marine spill to date. DEP s CAMA Office was tasked to lead Florida s involvement in the preassessment phase of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process. Managing Florida s NRDA pre-assessment and baseline response involved working with federal, state, and local governments to develop and implement protocols for collection of physical and biological information related to Florida s coastal and marine resources at risk from the spill event. In addition, CAMA managers and staff worked with USCG to update regional area contingency plans for deployment of booms and protection of sensitive marine and coastal habitats, provided HAZMAT training to DEP personnel, and coordinated with local partners and stakeholders to disseminate updated information regarding projections for potential spill impacts to Florida s coast. CAMA staff were also involved with local counties and participated on Shoreline Coastal Assessment Teams (SCAT) throughout the spring and summer of CAMA continues to support Florida s ongoing involvement in the NRDA process for Deepwater Horizon, shifting from pre-assessment to restoration planning and implementation. Ongoing drilling and extraction of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, in addition to proposed oil drilling off the coast of Cuba and the Bahamas within the next five years, signals the need for CAMA to develop a strategic response plan to address immediate and long-term risks to Florida s protected marine and coastal resources within CAMA s four million acres of Aquatic Preserves, National Estuarine Research Reserves, and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary/Coral Reef Conservation Program (see Figure I. Map of CAMA s Managed Areas). CAMA s strategic response plan, based on lessons learned from the recent Deepwater Horizon (DWH) event, builds on CAMA s existing strengths while recommending changes designed to increase efficiencies and avoid duplication of efforts. 1

2 Figure I. Map of CAMA Managed Areas CAMA s most effective role in a spill response is best defined by the organization s strengths: Place-based programs with field staff and a high level of local knowledge of natural resources, supported by boats, trailers, vehicles and equipment available to conduct onsite assessments on short notice. Most of CAMA s sites have ongoing baseline monitoring programs (e.g. monitoring of water quality parameters, sea grasses, mangroves and marshes, and associated wildlife. This information can be of high value to inform USCG, provided regional ACPs have been updated (see recommendations below). 2

3 CAMA works locally using well established networks of partners and stakeholders from both public and private sectors, including contacts with local government, media, and academia. NERR Learning/Education Centers have state-of-the-art facilities designed for disseminating science-based information and training to a wide range of target audiences. These facilities can be used by DEP to provide updated information briefings, and help ensure that local communities have access to update and accurate information regarding a spill event. CAMA has a well developed partnership with NOAA as the lead federal agency in the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) and the National Marine Sanctuary (NMS) and Florida Keys NMS Acts, with established contacts across a wide range of offices within NOAA that can be of significant value to DEP during a spill event. Examples include National Sea Grant, National Ocean Services (NOAA s line office with lead on the DWH event), Office of Response and Restoration, and the Coastal Services Center. Planning and Coordination (Pre-event) 1. Staying Informed: Area Contingency Planning and Ongoing Coordination with USCG The USCG has lead authority and responsibility for responding to oil spills under the Stafford Act and the Oil Pollution Act of As such, the USCG undertakes advance planning for spill response through the development of the USCG 7 th District International Offshore Drilling Response Plan (Appendix 1) and regional Area Contingency Plans (ACPs). The scope of ACPs includes the identification and location of environmentally sensitive areas (e.g. sea grass, mangroves, coral reefs) at risk from a spill event; development of site-specific protection strategies (e.g. deployment of booms, staging areas for boats and equipment) and identification of staging areas suitable for managing oil and clean up efforts. ACPs are developed and periodically updated by USCG regional sectors. For Florida, these sectors include Sector Mobile (Panhandle), Sector St. Pete ( Southwest FL), Sector Miami (Keys and Southeast FL), and Sector Jacksonville ( North East FL). The Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) has collaborated with the U.S. Coast Guard to make several of the Coast Guard's Area Contingency Plans, oil and hazardous material spill planning and response tool, digitally available on CD and the Web ( In addition, USCG and NOAA have recently initiated modeling efforts to help develop possible impact scenarios for a potential oil spill event associated with recent drilling efforts in Cuban waters. CAMA has participated in initial briefings conducted by USCG and NOAA in Florida. 3

4 Recommended Action: CAMA Regional Administrators are responsible for ensuring that CAMA sites (e.g. APs, NERRS, NMS) within each region are identified and updated as appropriate within each relevant USCG Sector s ACP. Updates to ACPs can be accomplished through meetings, s, teleconferences. 2. Staying Prepared: HAZMAT, SCAT and ICS Training and Tabletop Exercises As a result of the recent DWH event, a number of CAMA managers and staff have completed hazardous materials (HAZMAT), SCAT (Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Technique) and ICS (Incident Command System) training and certification. The certification is required for CAMA personnel to be authorized by the USCG to participate in a response to an oil spill event, due to the health risks associated with handling petroleum based materials such as crude oil. HAZMAT certification must be updated on an annual basis, requiring attention to available training programs and schedules. As was demonstrated during the DWH event ICS training significantly enhances an individuals ability to collaborate with federal and state agency emergency operations during an emergency. The USCG, FEMA, NOAA and other federal agencies involved in oil spill response, as well as participating state emergency management operations, utilize the ICS in response to a disaster event to develop and implement a coordinated response among participating agencies. SCAT is a simple and comprehensive way to perform a survey of an affected shoreline. This systematic approach uses standardized terminology to collect data on shoreline oiling conditions and supports decision-making for shoreline cleanup. SCAT is flexible in its scale of surveys and in the detail of data sets collected. SCAT is part of the response, and outpaces operations. This process continues past the initial assessment to verify cleanup effectiveness and conduct final evaluations. The SCAT process uses eight steps: 1) Conduct reconnaissance survey 2) Segment the shoreline 3) Assign teams and conduct shoreline surveys 4) Develop cleanup guidelines and endpoints 5) Submit reports and sketches to Planning Section 6) Monitor effectiveness of cleanup 7) Post cleanup inspections 8) Do final evaluation of cleanup activities. Recommended Actions: CAMA Central Office will coordinate with Bureau of Emergency Management (BEM) to ensure that CAMA personnel are notified in advance of training and recertification opportunities for HAZMAT, SCAT, and ICS. CAMA regional coordinators (see recommendations below) will ensure that participation in HAZMAT, SCAT, and ICS training is included in performance measures for selected employees within each CAMA region. Annual tabletop oil spill response exercises are envisioned that will engage appropriate CAMA and other DEP personnel in a simulated disaster event, in coordination with BEM and other programs and agencies as appropriate. 4

5 3. Updating the NRDA Process: NRDA Pre-Assessment Protocols As a result of the DWH event, many CAMA field staff were directly involved in the development, training and implementation of pre-assessment NRDA sampling protocols. Specifically, CAMA staff worked with local and state agency partners within five regions (Panhandle, West Coast, Florida Keys, Southeast Coast, and Northeast Coast) to (a) identify suitable sampling sites, (b) conduct pre-spill soil and water sampling using the most recently approved NRDA protocols, and (c) maintain legal chain of custody for all samples taken. A specialized website ( was designed to inform the public of on-going sampling activities and plans. This website also served to coordinate statewide baseline sampling efforts and was used as the primary source of information regarding sampling protocols and training opportunities. A challenging aspect of the NRDA pre-assessment process during the DWH event was constantly changing guidance from multi-agency working groups that were struggling with updating and revising outdated sampling protocols, while designing a feasible plan for a largescale event in the Gulf of Mexico. With NRDA sampling protocols now recently established for Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, it is anticipated that significant revisions will not be needed in the near future. Recommended action: DEP s NRDA lead will coordinate with NOAA (lead federal agency on NRDA) and FWC to help ensure that CAMA personnel are informed of any significant revisions to pre-assessment protocols and necessary updates are made to the nrdata.org website. Local sampling team contact information are updated and sampling resources (boats, sampling supplies, equipment, and personnel) are inventoried. CAMA will participate in a biennial review of NRDA protocols (e.g. webinar, teleconference) to ensure that field staff are informed. In addition, USGS modeling efforts should be integrated with the development of baseline sampling plans to ensure the pre-assessment effort is targeting appropriate locations and habitats. 4. Improving Agency Coordination: Establishing CAMA Regional Coordinators and a DEP Oil Spill Coordinator During the DWH event, CAMA s Director was tasked with taking the lead role for NRDA response for Florida, involving CAMA staff in the pre-assessment phase, and engaging CAMA resources and staff in related work described above. Managing Florida s NRDA process for the DWH event is a significant ongoing task that has impacted CAMA s limited staffing resources. 5

6 CAMA s OIL Spill Response Plan anticipates two alternative scales of potential impacts (and response) from a spill event, including (a) a regional response, and (b) a state-wide response. Recommended Actions: (1) CAMA EAs will identify an appropriate CAMA staff person within each CAMA region to serve as a region oil spill coordinator to provide an effective level of response coordination at a local/regional level. This individual will be tasked, at a minimum, with: Tracking status of NRDA sampling protocols and providing updated information and training as needed to local sampling teams. Identifying appropriate personnel within local and state government agencies qualified to serve on NRDA sampling teams within each designated region, and maintaining an updated contact list of team members. Working with BEM to coordinate training for selected CAMA personnel as appropriate. (2) To provide an effective short and long-term response for a state-wide spill event (e.g. at the scale of DWH) it is recommended that: CAMA Director and Deputy Secretary of Water Policy and Ecosystem Restoration seek approval by DEP Secretary for designation of a DEP Oil Spill Coordinator (OSC) who reports directly to the Secretary s Office. Envisioned is a high-level position with authority to work with Directors (e.g. CAMA, DEAR, District Offices, etc.), knowledge of DEP and other state and federal agencies, the NRDA process, and without other program responsibilities. Spill Response Under a large-scale oil spill scenario for Florida, DEP will most likely again serve as the lead state agency for Florida s response, working in close collaboration with other state (e.g. FWC) and local agencies, as well as participating in the ICS with USCG, NOAA, and other federal agencies. It is anticipated that the DEP Secretary will designate one or more leads within DEP to coordinate response efforts within and external to the agency, operating within the ICS frame work (e.g. DEP Oil Spill Response Coordinator). CAMA s response to a large scale oil spill scenario, taking into consideration the above factors and recommendations, is anticipated as follows: 1. Information briefings to all CAMA regional offices via teleconference, conducted by the CAMA Director and DEP OSC, to include updated information on location and current extent of spill, latest forecasts of spill impacts from ICS, and review of local plans 6

7 to implement NRDA pre-assessment sampling, secure updated HAZMAT and SCAT training (if required), coordinate efforts with other agencies, and review media/communications/community outreach protocols. The frequency of information briefings will be guided by the severity and scale of the spill event, but generally it is anticipated that daily briefings will be needed in the initial phase of response, and gradually shifting to bi-weekly or weekly as information needs to inform effective response change. An updated list of contact information for the CAMA Director and CAMA regional EAs is attached. 2. CAMA Regional Response Teams are organized by each CAMA EA to include the regional coordinator and selected CAMA staff to assume tasks including NRDA preassessment sampling, ICS coordination, and local community outreach. CAMA EAs report progress to CAMA Director and OSC weekly or as needed. 3. NRDA Pre-Assessment Sampling Teams are organized and trained by CAMA regional Coordinators as needed, involving state and local government agencies as needed. Sampling efforts are best served by experienced field staff familiar with their local waters, and with access to their own vessels. Regional coordinators must ensure that each sampling team: is familiar with the NRDA sampling protocol and chain of custody requirements have NRDA sampling kits have local knowledge of their targeted area of sampling is briefed on media relations protocol initiate sampling on a schedule that allows for delivery of samples to targeted labs for analysis, within an acceptable timeframe collect, label, store and transport samples following established protocols NOAA based sample intake teams are coordinated with field leads prior to sampling 4. Coordinate with USCG, ICS, DEP and NOAA Communications to conduct local agency briefings and community outreach at NERR and NMS facilities as needed. USCG Sector commands are typically stretched thin by a significant spill event. CAMA EAs can offer use of NERR and NMS facilities for dissemination of spill event response at two levels (a) agency briefings to local networks of partner agencies, and (b) public outreach to local communities. 5. Coordinate with USCG, NOAA and DEP to offer HAZMAT training as needed. In an extended spill event, there may be a need for providing additional HAZMAT training to 7

8 agencies and organizations willing to assist in clean-up efforts. CAMA can assist local efforts by providing facilities and trained staff. 6. Coordinate with USCG and ICS to help direct deployment of booms and locate staging areas as part of the ACP implementation. Local CAMA managers and staff will review and recommend boom and staging location information and other response protocols prior to deployment. CAMA field teams should place emphasis on keeping large vessels out of shallow, sensitive areas within CAMA sites, as significant damage to submerged habitats can occur from well intended clean-up efforts by vessels operating outside of their draft limits. Past experience has also indicated that placement of booms to protect environmentally sensitive areas such as mangroves or marsh wetlands from advancing surface oil is not an effective strategy under conditions commonly observed in the field (e.g. strong winds, tidal currents, wave action). More effective strategies utilize a combination of skimmer vessels and boom deployment to direct surface oil to staging areas such as barrier beaches where oil can be collected and removed. Kevin Claridge Director, CAMA (850) Office (850) Cell CAMA Contact Information Lee Edmiston Environmental Administrator, Apalachicola NERR CAMA Northwest Region (850) Office (850) Cell Mike Shirley Environmental Administrator, Guana-Tolomato-Matanzas NERR CAMA East Coast Region (904) Office (904) Cell Gary Lytton Environmental Administrator, Rookery Bay NERR CAMA South Region 8

9 (239) Ext 203 Office (239) Cell Joanna Walczak Administrator, Coral Reef Conservation Program Florida Keys Region (305) Office Appendix 1: References Seventh CG District International Offshore Drilling Response Plan bin/st/portal/uscg_docs/mycg/editorial/ /ccgdseven%20oplan% %20iodrp.pdf?id=802a29f4b050b76547a47268ae04dba047b22cd3&user_id=b58707fba328 da0e9677f250d06daff5 FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) Area Contingency Plans: Including oil and hazardous material spill planning and response tools, are digitally available on CD or the Web at: 9

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