Captain’s Corner: Environmental Response

U.S. Coast Guard photo of CAPT Tom Allan taken by Petty Officer 2nd Class Timothy TamargoThis Captain’s Corner is brought to you by LT Chris Svencer and Marine Science Technician Chief Petty Officer Aaron Frost, who work in the Sector’s Incident Management Division. I hope this short article provides you some insight into our environmental response planning process. The Area Contingency Plan we just updated and released was truly a team effort with inputs from stakeholders across the region – for those of you that helped us produce the Plan, your participation was truly appreciated. As always, if you have recommendations for future topics, we would appreciate your input. See you in the port!
– CAPT Tom Allan

Environmental Response: The Importance of Area Contingency Plans

By LT Chris Svencer and Marine Science Technician Chief Petty Officer Aaron Frost, USCG Sector Jacksonville

In the wake of multiple catastrophic oil spills, including the Exxon Valdez, the U.S. enacted legislation to enhance spill response capabilities and address multiple deficiencies identified in the response system at that time. To help in rectifying these deficiencies, an Area Contingency Plan (ACP) was developed for each Coast Guard Captain of the Port Area of Responsibility.

Each ACP is prepared by an Area Committee (AC) whose purpose is to define the roles, responsibilities, resources, and procedures necessary to respond to a spill. The AC is comprised of local, state and federal stakeholders and is open to the public. Meetings are held quarterly in various locations within Northeast Florida, and details can be found on the Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville Homeport web page.

Over the course of the last three years, the Northeast and Central Florida AC conducted several meetings to review and update Geographic Response Plan (GRP) information regarding environmentally sensitive areas, stakeholder contact information, and oil spill response strategies that affect the Sector Jacksonville AOR. The GRP offers specific details on booming strategies and available cleanup resources which can greatly aid the public in responding to and evaluating the impact of oil discharges into the water. View a sample GRP map to the right.

Beyond playing catch up to discharged oil, the Coast Guard is proactively engaged with industry partners via quarterly unannounced spill exercises and annual full scale practice responses. These exercises are especially important given Sector Jacksonville’s 300+ annual pollution incident notifications. The training gained while continuously testing the ideas set forth in the ACP helps ensure that a quick and effective cleanup operation is available at all times.

Click here for additional information about the Area Contingency Plan.

All oil and HAZMAT spills are required to be reported to the National Response Center at 800-424-8802.