By ROY ROBERTSON Drill Monitor Two large oil spill drills were conducted in Prince William Sound this past September and October. Both exercises proved challenging for the organizations participating in them. SeaRiver Maritime held a three-day exercise in the middle of September. For this annual drill, the role of the “spiller” alternates among the shipping companies that move oil through Prince William Sound. This year, the oil spill scenario was a collision between a SeaRiver Maritime tanker and a fish-processing vessel in the middle of Prince William Sound near Naked Island, about 40 miles from the Valdez Marine Terminal. Unlike last year’s drill, this exercise did not include any field equipment deployments. However, several other challenges were included to add realism:
- The first 36 hours of the exercise was conducted continuously requiring all of the organizations involved to identify and use shifts for their personnel, even overnight.
- While the drill date was known in advance, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Coast Guard did not reveal the scenario details or location of the simulated oil spill until the start of the exercise.
- This exercise also included a middle of the night transition from the Valdez Emergency Operations Center to the Valdez Civic Center to provide more room for the command post.