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Spill drill poses worst case scenario

At approximately 2:45 a.m. May 18, a Navy barge headed from Manchester Fuel Depot to Whidbey Island Naval Air Station hit pilings next to the pier, leaking 135,000 gallons of jet fuel into Crescent Harbor. No injuries were reported. Initial efforts to contain the spill by Navy crews were not effective and several outside agencies were called in to attempt to contain the spill.

Luckily, the above “accident” scenario did not really occurr.

If it were not a training drill, this accident could be an ecological disaster that would have long-range devastating effects.

The “spill drill,” as the exercise is known, is a concentrated effort to bring together many federal, state and local agencies in preparation for an event involving the spilling of contaminants into local waters.

Almost 200 federal and state employees took part in the exercise alongside over 100 Navy personnel.

“It was a great opportunity for Navy Region Northwest’s Spill Management Team to work with a number of agencies that would need to come together to respond to a spill of this nature,” said John Mosher of NAS Whidbey Environmental Affairs.

Practicing for worst-case scenarios can come with challenges. Coordinating over 11 different agencies and nearly 200 personnel comes down to good organization and communications.

“The drill was very successful,” Mosher said of last Thursday’s exercise.

This type drill is conducted by Navy Region Northwest every three years.

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