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Tabletop Exercise Focuses on Large-Scale Oil Spill Response Off San Diego

Date Posted: August 7, 2009

The Service's Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (CFWO) Environmental Contaminants Division hosted the San Diego Area Committee's quarterly meeting and annual National Preparedness for Response Exercise Program Tabletop Exercise (TTX) on June 4, 2009. The TTX was designed to test the implementation of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Incident Command System (ICS) and management capabilities of the response agencies regarding a large-scale oil spill in northern San Diego County. It also provided an opportunity to evaluate current response plans and focus on coordination and communication between local, state, and federal agencies, emergency responders, area stakeholders, and volunteers.

In addition to representatives from the Service, participants included the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), U. S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corp, U. S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, California Emergency Management Agency, California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), Oceanside Community Emergency Responders, San Diego Office of Emergency Services, and many other natural resource organizations and non-governmental agencies.

The TTX scenario involved the collision of a tank and fishing vessel off the coast of Oceanside, San Diego County, California that discharged 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel into the water. A potential release of an additional 10,000 gallons from the vessels also remained a threat.

The drill enabled participants to test both off-shore and on-shore response strategies that addressed the safety of human life; stabilization of the situation; fuel release containment; oil removal; and minimization of impacts to wildlife and the environment. Participant responses were to provide the best possible solutions and recommended actions based upon the circumstances presented. The exercise objectives also helped to assess notification protocols and procedures, as well as transition from an ICS to a Unified Command (UC). Capt. Thomas H. Farris, the Commanding Officer of Coast Guard Sector San Diego and Captain of the Port, along with Lt. Warden Bryan Gollhofer of the CDFG served as the UC response decision makers.

"In the event we were to experience a spill, such as the scenario given for this exercise, the objectives were a guideline for us to follow in the hope to obtain strong partnerships with the local and state agencies potentially affected," said Lt. Cmdr. Katie Groves, Chief of the Planning Department of Coast Guard Sector San Diego. "We have identified our strengths and areas of improvement because of the results and are working closely with the other agencies to ensure we safely and effectively protect ourselves and communities."

Key organizers for the meeting included Lt. Marie Sevin and Lt. j.g. Marc Mares of the USCG, Robin Lewis and Kris Wiese of the CDFG, and Dr. Sharon Taylor and Judy Gibson of the CFWO's Environmental Contaminants Division.

"We are pleased to have worked so closely with all of our partners in the San Diego Area Committee, and to have participated in a very successful event," said Lt. Warden Bryan Gollhofer of the CDFG. "It is by working together that we can minimize future threats to the public and California's environmentally sensitive ecosystems."

Contacts:
Stephanie Weagley, 760-431-9440 ext 210

Links:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office

Last updated: February 13, 2013