Maine Department of Environmental Protection To Test Spill Strategies In Vital Scarborough Marsh

October 2, 2012

Samantha DePoy-Warren, Maine DEP Director of Communications, at (207) 287-5842 or Ginger McMullin, Maine DEP Response Planning Coordinator, at (207) 446-7032

-The boom deployment exercise will test the feasibility of potential strategies for effectively protecting the state’s largest salt marsh and an important recreational and habitat resource in the event of a large marine spill-

SCARBOROUGH – State emergency environmental responders will be better prepared to protect the precious Scarborough Marsh in the event of an oil spill following a day-long boom deployment exercise there this Thursday.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has contracted with Moran Environmental Recovery, Boom Technologies Inc. and Nuka Research to assist with the drill, which will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 4 and also includes the United States Coast Guard and the Scarborough Fire Department.

The training exercise – developed after two recent days of pre-deployment testing to measure tidal flow and velocity and evaluate potential float oil trajectories for both a flood and an ebb tide – is to test the feasibility of response strategies in the event of a large marine oil spill offshore threatening the Scarborough River and the state’s largest salt marsh.

Owned and managed by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the 3,100-acre estuary known as Scarborough Marsh is a beloved recreational resource for canoeing, kayaking and birding and is critically important for wildlife as a resting, breeding and feeding ground. It is close to Portland Harbor, the second largest oil import port on the East Coast, bringing in approximately 130,000,000 barrels of oil annually to seven licensed marine terminals.

Maine has a total of 209 protection strategies designed for environmentally sensitive areas from Kittery to Calais, and DEP has an active program to review and test these strategies – particularly in areas with the highest risk for marine oil spills – to ensure natural resources are most effectively protected.

The preparation pays protection efforts. A similar training exercise was held last October in the Penobscot River in Bucksport and the lessons learned were deployed just months later to minimize the impact of a railroad derailment that dumped paper-making chemicals into the river.

Maine DEP Director of Response Services Barbara Parker, who was on-scene in the Gulf Coast coordinating the response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf Coast, will be available to speak with the media at the 8 a.m. drill briefing and again at 11 a.m. at the Pine Point boat launch about the exercise, how it aligns with the state’s larger spill response plan and how the lessons learned by DEP staff deployed to Deepwater Horizon better protect Maine today.