MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. --
Marines and civilians with Aircraft Rescue & Firefighting, Marine Wing Support Squadron 273, and Air Station fuels and the Natural Resources Environmental Affairs Office completed a week-long Facility Response Team course July 14-17. The intent of the exercise was to increase proficiency in nautical spill response procedures aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.
The course instructed Marines on how to evaluate environmental and nautical conditions and tactics in order to quickly respond to an oil spill in the waterways leading to the Air Station.
"It’s a five-day class to requalify and qualify as Facility Response Team responders," said Billy Drawdy, the natural resources and environmental affairs officer for NREAO. "They gain the basic knowledge to respond to a spill properly, and the information and training that is specific to Beaufort."
Students learned how to properly execute a spill contingen
cy plan, hazmat training, and use the equipment to control and contain any contamination over water.
"The air station is a unique setting," said Drawdy. "It handles a lot of fuel surrounded by a pristine environment so whenever there’s a threat, a facility response team is trained up and ready to go. You learn to take responsibility for spills that may occur at your facility and do what you can for immediate and effective cleanup."
The skimmer, a boat equipped with an oil recovery system, helps filter oil contamination in the water and is one of many assets in the air station’s arsenal for protecting the waterways.
"Part of the Marine Corps’ mission is to not leave a big footprint," said Drawdy. "You need to have some people trained and ready to respond because this area is pristine and needs to be protected."
Due to their expertise in protecting the environment and responding to critical situations, a majority of the course was occupied by Marines with the air station’s ARFF section.
According to the air station’s fuel division, the primary method of fuel delivery for the air station is via barge over the waterways, making the training not only essential but proactive to any possible oil spill emergency situation.