On May 24-26, 2016, NOAA's Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center (DRC) sponsored a NOAA Regional Preparedness Training (NRPT) Workshop at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in Galveston, Texas.
This was the first in a series of three workshops with the University of New Hampshire's Coastal Response Research Center to enhance regional preparedness for emergencies. The Galveston workshop focused on oil spill threats, response trade-offs (including the use of dispersants), and coordination of spills threatening the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and similar sea mount habitats along the shelf boundary of the Gulf of Mexico. Workshop participants included federal agencies, state agencies, industry response organizations, and local non-governmental organizations. The goal of each of NRPT workshop is to better understand the human and natural resources at risk, the roles and responsibilities of the different agencies responding, and the science that drives decision making during a coastal emergency. In addition, participants discuss how the response actions taken will provide the greatest protection, least environmental impact, and faster recovery times, in other words, resilience. A second workshop will be held in Mobile, Alabama, on June 8-9, 2016. The goal of this workshop is to better understand an oil spill response occurring at the same time as a storm-caused flooding disaster. The Mobile workshop will explore the roles and responsibilities when Stafford Act and Oil Pollution Act authorities and responses co-occur and how to better prepare for and coordinate such disasters in a real event. The third and final workshop of this series will be held in St. Petersburg, Florida, focusing on risk communications during major oil spills.