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Inland River Spill Scenario in the Seneca Nation of Indians Territory, Salamanca, New York

OCTOBER 4, 2021 ─ On September 23, 2021, Great Lakes Scientific Support Coordinator Lieutenant Rachel Pryor participated in a multi-agency effort to train Salamanca fire department and first responders for pollution response and spill equipment deployment in the Allegheny River.

The joint exercise was initiated by Michael Gates, Director of the Seneca Nation Emergency Management Department, in effort to prioritize preparedness in case of a pollution discharge into the Allegheny River. OR&R’s participation was deemed mission critical for LT Rachel Pryor to participate in the exercise.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency led federal agencies in planning the drill scenario and was supported by the United States Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and Department of Interior. The USCG supplied 400 feet of 18inch containment boom, a trailer to store response material, aerial images recorded by drones, and a vessel from the National Strike Force. NOAA provided weather, river gauge forecasts, and a verbal trajectory of where a potential release of 10,000 gallons of oil would impact. USFWS and DOI contributed resources at risk and best management practices to avoid disturbing sensitive habitats.

The exercise was a valuable learning experience for the first responders, fire department, and federal partners. The Allegheny River was moving fast due to a high volume of rain the previous day and the current prevented boom from successfully anchoring to the bottom. The group discussed alternative solutions to contain and collect an oil spill including: size of boom, type of absorbent material, shore side anchoring points, boat ramp accessibility, and vessel engine power. Michael Gates was extremely appreciative of the collaborative teamwork and expertise brought by federal partners and the assets deployed to test equipment and formalize a geographic response plan for the Allegheny River.

Protocols for safety, in light of the current pandemic, were followed.

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Last updated Tuesday, November 8, 2022 1:42pm PST