WATCH: Both the Canadian and U.S Coast Guards were out practising oil spill response drills in the Strait of Juan de Fuca Thursday. It’s all part of making sure they can work together if an actual spill happened. Luisa Alvarez went out on the water to see how it would all play out.
Adequate oil spill response is paramount to maintain the health of the oceans.
That’s why both the U.S and Canadian Coast guard, along with their spill response partners, were practising their joint response during a two-day simulated drill. They started in Port Angeles on Wednesday and then on Thursday, they were in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
“This is the first time we are actually going to put a product a green product in the water that will actually simulate the oil,” said Michael Lowry with Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC).
Together, both countries will practice the roles of their joint response plan, the Canada-United States Joint Marine Pollution Contingency Plan, Pacific Annex (CANUSPAC Annex)
They also tested moving response equipment and personnel across the Canadian/US border.
Part of the drill was using surveillance planes on the lookout for spills which then dispatched clean up vessels on stand by. Twenty vessels were on the water Thursday.
Some were WCMRC vessels, others belonged to the Canadian and U.S Coast Guards as well as other U.S. response organizations.
“We use booms that are inflatable tubes that have a skirt that hangs beneath the surface and when the oil is thick enough then we put a skimming system into that oil to recover it,” said Lowry, describing one way to clean the oil up.
More than 5,000 deep sea vessels travel through the Salish Sea in designated shipping lanes each year on both sides of the border. Lowry says it’s crucial in the event of a cross border spill both countries are able to work together and respond.
“Oil has no boundaries in terms of border and so the oil can move on either side and it’s best not to have two different task forces. We want to work as one to contain, recover and store any type of oil that would be recovered on the water,” said Jeff Brady, deputy superintendent for the Canadian Coast Guard’s Environmental response in the Western region.