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Preventing oil pollution

By Lance Cpl. Rubin J. Tan | | December 9, 2011


Fightertown’s spill management team and facility response team members practiced drills to better prepare them¬selves for a disastrous oil spill at the Air Station’s fuel pier, Nov. 2.

The teams worked with the Natural Re¬sources and Environ¬mental Affairs Office to learn how to enclose contaminated water and neutralize the threat.

“The facility response team are the individuals who physically address the spill by being out on the water operating boats,” said Corey Jack¬son, Air Station environ¬mental inspector and Comprehensive Environ¬mental Training and Educa¬tion Program coordinator.

The spill management team has the responsibility of contacting the necessary governmental agencies such as the Coast Guard, or the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmen¬tal Control, Jackson said.

Hard booms and contain¬ment booms are long floats used to create barriers in the water that control the path of the contaminant.

“Oil does not mix with wa¬ter and the weight difference allows oil to sit on top, which makes the booms effective,” said Ralph Dagin, Air Sta¬tion pollution prevention co¬ordinator and situation unit leader for the facility spill management team.

A ‘U’ shaped booming method was used south of the pier to prevent the simu¬lated oil on the water from traveling down stream. The team then had to respond to a change in the current.

A platform boat began to drop containment booms north of the simulated spill, creating a funnel shaped barrier directing the con¬taminants toward the skim¬mer vessel, a boat used to vacuum up the spillage into a back truck.

“We cannot capture all that has been released during an oil spill,”

said Jackson, a Michigan City, Ind., native.

He continued, through the course of removal, only about 20 to 30 percent of waste is able to be ex¬tracted by the team efforts. The remainder however, is removed though natural means of evaporation and carbon dioxide in soil.

“Teamwork and communi¬cation is very important dur¬ing an oil spill,”

said Dagin, a Beaufort native. “If there is no teamwork, it can just be a disaster in a disaster.”

For those who wish to be a part of the spill team con¬tact Jackson at 228-7884.