K-9 Detection of Buried Oil on Beaches
Two people and a dog sit on the grass.
Catherine Berg, Pepper, and Gary Shigenaka. Image credit: NOAA.

MAY 5, 2017--This week, OR&R’s Emergency Response Division returned to Prince William Sound to use some of the old buried oil from the Exxon Valdez oil spill to improve how we can find oil on the shoreline in the future.

This time, the key player was an enthusiastic black Labrador retriever named Pepper. This project is to validate and better understand the capabilities of trained oil detection canines to locate and delineate subsurface stranded oil. The results of the study have a high probability of immediate, short-term applications and long-term real benefits in the design and implementation of shoreline assessment (SCAT) surveys for stranded oil. Dog teams are already being productively employed for oil assessment in actual spills (Pepper will be traveling to Canada to join her canine colleagues for a river spill assessment). Funding for the project came from the Oil Spill Recovery Institute; the principal investigator is Owens Coastal Consultants, Ltd. working with K2 Solutions, Inc. OR&R scientists went along to observe the trials, assist in the verification of oil presence, and provide feedback on the use of oil detection dogs in real-time spill situations.

For further information, contact Catherine.Berg@noaa.gov.

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