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CLEAN PACIFIC 2021 Conference: Dogs, Frogs, and Mercury

AUGUST 30, 2021 — On August 17 - 18, a number of OR&R staff participated in the CLEAN PACIFIC 2021 conference, held both virtually and in-person in Renton, Washington.

Two men standing in a wooded area.
EPA staff members study surface water that has been contaminated with mercury from old tailings at Black Butte Mine, a former mercury mine located just south of Cottage Grove, Oregon. Image credit: EPA.

Presentations covered a broad array of topics, among them: managing hybrid in-person/virtual spill responses and exercises; wildlife issues and regulations, including a study of the short-term effects of crude oil exposure on Northern leopard frogs; emerging and evolving technologies, such as the use of drones in response, oil detection thresholds by canines, and subsea dispersant injection to reduce exposure of well control workers to VOCs (volatile organic compounds); transboundary and stakeholder issues; and inland prevention and response, including the complexities of cleaning up elemental mercury in the environment.

Each year, CLEAN PACIFIC brings together the tight-knit spill response community in the western U.S. and Canada, with the goal of delivering spill prevention, response, and remediation content that covers region-specific issues. The conference also offers ample time for attendees to network and cultivate the relationships that are crucial before, during, or after a spill response.

Overall, there was an open exchange of ideas, case studies, and best practices for stakeholders from government, environmental, emergency planning, and response industries. Participants represented the maritime, facilities, rail, and pipeline industries.

All sessions were livestreamed and made available on-demand immediately following the conference. In addition, several pre-recorded bonus sessions were offered.

CLEAN PACIFIC is part of the CLEAN Event portfolio, which includes the CLEAN WATERWAYS Conference (September 14-15, 2021; virtual or in-person in Louisville, Kentucky) and the CLEAN GULF Conference & Exhibition (November 16-18, 2021; in-person in San Antonio, Texas or on-demand). While the nature of each event is similar, each one draws a unique audience based on the physical response environment and regional differences.

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Dog using a tool to detect an oil sample.
The high sensitivity, accuracy, and precision of canine noses is being applied to the task of oil detection at different thresholds. In this photo, oil detection canine Poppy (one of two shelter dogs who has been certified under International Canine Spill & Leak Detection Association standards) undergoes indoor training with a 12-pot carousel—one of which contains the oil target. Poppy has been trained to ignore low odor concentrations—in this case 250 parts per billion. Image credit: Ed Owens, Owens Coastal Consultants
Crude oil on a frog.
Topical exposure of crude oil on a Northern leopard frog (Lithobates pipiens) during a study to examine short-term impacts of crude oil on frogs. Image credit: Becky Elias, Environmental Assessment Services LLC.
Last updated Tuesday, November 8, 2022 1:42pm PST