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Representatives from OR&R and Multiple NOAA programs Discuss Spill and Other Emergency Response Roles and Capabilities at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters

APRIL 20, 2018 — On Wednesday, April 18, the Office of Response and Restoration and representatives of several other NOAA programs gathered at U.S. Coast Guard headquarters for a full-day meeting on NOAA roles, responsibilities, and capabilities applicable to oil spill responses.

Group of nine men and women pose outdoors for a photo.
NOAA presenters at the Douglas A. Munro Coast Guard Headquarters Building (left to right): Sara Wilkin, Ed Levine, David Wolcott, Katherine Edwards, Scott Lundgren, Mike Aslaksen, CDR John Lomnicky, LCDR Chris Skapin, Ellen Ramirez, and (not pictured) Tom Brosnan. Image credit: NOAA.

The Coast Guard National Pollution Funds Center (NPFC) requested the meeting to educate and refresh staff on NOAA roles, as their staff is involved in reimbursable funding arranged with OR&R for NOAA response and injury assessment functions. This center is a unit of the Coast Guard that provides funding for quick oil spill response, compensates claimants for cleanup costs and damages, and takes action to recover costs from responsible parties; it also certifies that oil-carrying vessels have the financial ability to pay in the case of an oil spill. Given the common interests, NOAA also invited staff from the Coast Guard’s Marine Environmental Response Policy office to participate.

A diverse array of NOAA offices briefed on their roles and capabilities.  OR&R briefed on several emergency response and assessment and restoration functions that OR&R delivers across the response continuum from emergency scientific support through natural resource injury assessment and restoration. Specific talks were provided on oil types, fate, and modeling; sensitivity and vulnerability of natural resources at risk in spills as captured in the Environmental Sensitivity Index data and atlases; shoreline assessment and cleanup, and the Environmental Response and Management Application. OR&R coordinated participation and presentations from a subset of the many NOAA programs that we maintain connections with related to our scientific support, injury assessment, and Disaster Preparedness Program functions.

Other OR&R sister programs within the National Ocean Service addressed their emergency and spill roles. Participants learned about systems to acquire and forecast tide and current data, as well as advanced systems for precision navigation and deployable emergency response capabilities from the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services.  The National Geodetic Survey representative provided information about the remote sensing mission with a focus on the emergency and disaster response capabilities. The Office of Coast Survey Navigation Response manager addressed the emergency hydrographic survey capabilities of the Navigation Response Teams and other resources in NOAA that help restore critical commercial flows after disasters and other disruptions that may involve spills and marine casualties.

The group also learned from the National Marine Fisheries Service Protected Resource Division about emergency response and environmental compliance related to marine mammals, sea turtles, essential fish habitat, and Endangered Species Act requirements.

From NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service, a representative from the Satellite Analysis Branch spoke about the Marine Pollution Surveillance Program and the spill anomaly reports that are issued to the user community and the public.

The National Weather Service briefed on Decision Support Services, program direction and evolution, and the deployable meteorologist role that may be applied in spill response.

The information shared on NOAA capabilities was well received by participants and initial plans were established for similar information sharing sessions to be held in future years.

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