May 10, 2016

IFW News -- IFW To Conduct Mock Oil Spill Training Scenario Near Searsport

AUGUSTA, Maine -- The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will be conducting a mock oil spill training exercise on Thursday, May 12 near Searsport starting at 8:00 a.m. and continuing into the late afternoon.

“As part of the training, people may see department staff in protective gear, staff at the mobile command center, or boats searching the harbor, but they should not be alarmed,” said IFW wildlife biologist Don Katnik, who will be overseeing the exercise. “We try and make these scenarios as realistic as possible in order to be prepared for an actual spill.”

The simulated spill involves a small vessel running aground in the vicinity of Sears Island and breaking up, releasing diesel fuel into the harbor as well as onto the shore at Sears Island. Boundary flags will mark the “oiled” shoreline, and stuffed animals and waterfowl decoys will represent “oiled” wildlife.

“If anyone should encounter one of the orange survey flags or a marked stuffed animal, we ask that they please leave them there for the exercise,” said Katnik, “They all will be collected and removed as part of the training.”

During an actual oil spill, the department’s primary role is finding and capturing oiled wildlife, and preventing more wildlife from become oiled. Staff participating in the exercise in and around Sears Island will be looking for “oiled” wildlife in the spill area, and using hazing techniques such as a propane noise cannon to keep wildlife away from the oil sheen.

“We will have a tent set up where biologists will bring the ‘oiled’ wildlife to be stabilized before transport to a rehab facility,” said Katnik. Eight different sections of the area will be searched. There will also be one team searching in a boat, and another team practicing hazing techniques. A command center will be set up at the corner of Route 1 and the Sears Island Road.

IFW annually conducts classroom training concerning oil spills, and periodically conducts mock oil spill scenarios with other agencies. The last field scenario was conducted in 2010.

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