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2020 Spill of National Significance Executive (SONS) Seminar

SEPTEMBER 28, 2020 — On September 9, OR&R Director Scott Lundgren joined the 2020 Spill of National Significance Executive (SONS) Seminar as the key advisor to the NOAA Principals — NOAA Administrator Dr. Neil Jacobs and National Ocean Service Acting Assistant Administrator Nicole LeBoeuf. 

On the left, people sitting around a table; on the right, conference banner.
The SONS 2020 Executive Seminar took place as a hybrid event on September 9, 2020. The NOAA administrator, National Ocean Service Acting Assistant Administrator, and Office of Response and Restoration Director virtually joined the 17 departments and agencies participating in the seminar. Image credit: SONS.

This principal-level exercise hosted by the U.S. Coast Guard and planned by an interagency steering committee involved participation from 17 federal departments and agencies and the primary state impacted by the scenario. The SONS executive seminar series ensures familiarity of senior agency officials with the interagency coordination procedures to manage a spill that is designated a SONS due to its severity, size, location, or impact and associated management complexity. The seminar also serves to build relationships and understanding of spill roles and responsibilities across the federal family.

Atop the unity of effort theme common across all SONS exercises, key areas of focus for 2020 included the mechanism for senior agency collaboration and the transition of leadership as a spill moved from the inland to coastal zones where the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Coast Guard have spill response oversight, respectively. 

NOAA highlighted our roles, responsibilities, and capabilities that the agency would bring to bear to protect public health, environment, and property in the event of a SONS, as well as the communications approach internally and with our partners. Most of these capabilities were brought to bear in the only declared SONS in the United States, the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and response in the Gulf of Mexico. This timeline reflects key features of that incident and NOAA actions, and we recently reflected on the scientific advances in the decade since Deepwater Horizon relevant to future spills.

Prevention of spills and the harm they cause will always remain the top priority, however events such as SONS 2020 and the extensive national exercise program applicable to all spills helps ensure a system that is ready for any spills that do occur.

For further information, contact Scott.Lundgren@noaa.gov.

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Last updated Friday, October 2, 2020 3:01pm PDT