Maine & New Hampshire Area Committee Meeting Minutes for April 27, 2011
Mailing Address: USCG Sector Northern New England, 259 High St. South Portland, ME 04106
Phone: (207) 741-5437 Fax: (207) 741-5403
Date: April 27, 2011
Time: 9:00 A.M.
Location: Ocean Gateway Terminal, Portland, ME
Welcome and Introductions: Wyman Briggs opened the meeting on schedule. Roundtable introductions were conducted. 57 people attended the meeting.
1. Federal On-Scene Coordinator Comments: CAPT McPherson highlighted that the Area Committee Seminar on March 22-23 in Portsmouth was a home run with a capacity crowd, first rate speakers from around the country and many valuable lessons learned. He also shared that the Incident Specific Preparedness Review has been released which highlights many of the key points learned during the DWH response. CAPT McPherson also noted that there had recently been a loaded tankship that transited outside the shipping channel during its transit into Portland. Though the ship did not appear to have touched bottom and there was no apparent damage to the hull, this case highlights the need for the Area Committee to continue to maintain a high level of response preparedness. The case is under investigation.
2. Maine DEP Comments: Barbara Parker provided an overview of the response to a recent 4 tank car train role over incident that she and her staff participated in Easton, ME as well as a discharge from a fuel pipeline in Fort Kent. She noted that budgets were tight and there was some ongoing transition within ME DEP and Maine government.
3. New Hampshire DES Comments: Rick Berry noted that budgets continued to be tight within NH DES but that his staff remained very busy responding to a high case load.
4. Area Committee Highlights: Wyman Briggs provided highlights from the ME/NH Area Committee’s 14th Annual Seminar that was held on March 22-23 in Portsmouth, NH. Over 105 representatives attended the seminar which featured speakers from around the country outlining key lessons learned from the SONS 2010 Exercise in Portland, Maine and the Deepwater Horizon spill response in the Gulf. Action items from the Seminar include:
- Providing additional ICS training for the extended response community (e.g. ICS 320).
- Testing key response (booming) strategies to ensure they are effective and prioritizing critical areas.
- Increasing outreach to a broader range of emergency operations stakeholders including EMA directors, the Governors’ staffs, and NGOs.
- Promoting the use of strategic communications to get the word out through the media.
5. DWH Incident Specific Preparedness Review:
Barbara Parker provided an overview of the ISPR process and results, including:
- The purpose of the ISPR was to review implementation and effectiveness of existing preparedness and response plans, identify key issues of intersection between the National Contingency Plan (NCP) and the National Response Framework (NRF), and assess the effectiveness of the Coast Guard's overall oil spill response, communications, and coordination efforts with the states and other federal agencies.
- Positives: The Incident Command System worked well, there was strong unity of effort across the organization, and lessons learned during this major response effort has left the response community better prepared to respond to a future major spill.
- General findings: The Coast Guard’s Marine Safety/Environmental Response program has atrophied over the years due to shifting priorities and the success of OPA 90 prevention efforts. Local ACPs were inadequate. Environmentally sensitive areas were not always prioritized. Insitu burning and dispersant use were critical successes but need further research. Need better measures of skimmer recovery capacities. Need more R&D to improve spill response tools. Need to connect the NCP and NRF at all levels. The NIC concept works but need more crises response training across the USCG. Need to institutionalize Lessons Learned.
- “If you want to play on game day, you need to come to practice”, per ADM Thad Allen.
6. Update on Piscataqua River booming strategy: Rick Berry noted that the Piscataqua River Co-Op recently reconfigured its strategy for protecting Great Bay to ensure it is in compliance with potential waterway safety concerns. They will be moving pre-staged moorings out of the shipping channel and providing larger, lighted markers. The next PRC drill will be unannounced to better test response capabilities under realistic response conditions.
7. Geographic Response Strategy update: Ginger McMullen briefed the committee on recent efforts to make improvements to the 251 designated geographic response strategies along the coast of Maine and New Hampshire. 99 of the 208 strategies in Maine have been visited and evaluated. A similar or higher proportion of the strategies in NH have also been visited. A field evaluation is scheduled for June to test the effectiveness of major strategies on the Fore River during max current condition. Additional testing will be conducted next Fall.
8. CANUSLANT 2011 Update: Wyman Briggs updated the committee on the upcoming CANUSLANT 2011 exercise which is scheduled for May 19th in Bar Harbor, Maine. The exercise will include 5 facilitated workgroups discussing the response to a cross-border spill from a grounded cruise ship near Grand Manan Island.
9. Scientific Support Coordinator Perspectives: Steve Lehmann provided an update on follow-on work being done in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon response including studies of the fate and effects of dispersed oil, fishery closure issues, and insitu burning considerations.
10. Applying National Salvage Response Capabilities in New England: LT Andrew Lawrence of the Coast Guard’s Salvage Engineering Response Team provided an overview of the types of independent engineering analysis SERT can provide USCG FOSCs following a vessel grounding, collision, fire, capsizing, structural failure or other casualty on a 24x7 basis.
11. Response to a Ship Fire Scenario: The committee used the scenario of a burning 75-foot fishing vessel off the Portland Fish Pier to discuss response capabilities and roles of local, state and federal agencies. The unified plans outlined in the “Greater Portland Standard Operating Guidelines for Command and Control of Port Incidents” were validated. The use of the Incident Command System and a Unified Command was stressed.
12. Closing Comments: All co-chairs thanked everyone for their efforts and continued cooperation. This was CAPT McPherson’s last AC Meeting prior to his Change of Command on June 24th. He noted the marked improvements in preparedness over the past 3 years – including designating an ICP at the Air National Guard in South Portland, full re-write of the Area Contingency Plan, SONS 2010, renewed focus on Geographic Response Plans, development of a draft volunteer management plan, and lessons learned from Deepwater Horizon. He noted how much he has enjoyed working with all members of the Area Committee. After the meeting was adjourned, Portland Fire Department hosted tours aboard their fire boat, the City of Portland IV.
13. Next AC Meeting:
0900 – 1200 on September 21, 2011 at New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services’ Coastal Offices; 222 International Drive, Suite 175, Pease International Tradeport, Portsmouth, NH.