10 January 2015

Advanced Oil Spill Response in Ice Course

For the second year in a row, Alaska Clean Seas (ACS) has conducted an Advanced Oil Spill Response in Ice Course at the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) in Hanover, New Hampshire. In January and February this year, two separate week-long courses were held, training approximately 55 spill response personnel representing oil companies and agencies working on Alaska’s North Slope.

This course was held at CRREL’s 60 x 25 x 8 outdoor saline test basin. Approximately 18-20” of sea ice is grown using the tank’s chilling system, completely covering the tank’s surface. “North Slope crude oil is injected under the ice prior to the start of training. Our training covers a wide range of topics, including: ice safety, detection and delineation of an oil spill under ice, containment and recovery tactics in ice, deployment of skimmers and recovery systems, and oil spill in-situ burning,” says Alaska Clean Seas, Chris Hall, Training Specialist and Oil Spill Responder.

Controlled environment

“We select topics that provide the responder with diverse, realistic training but the focus is to use CRREL to do what we cannot do on the North Slope. CRREL allows us the opportunity to train with real oil in real ice. It is a safe and contained environment. That said, all of the unknowns and unique winter operational challenges that can happen in a real spill can happen at CRREL,” Hall highlights. “Our students have knowledge and proficiency in site safety, equipment operations, and other spill response topics from their weekly training on the North Slope. CRREL enables us to ‘put it all together’ in a realistic yet simulated training environment. We build confidence in our students that they can effectively respond during an Arctic oil spill event,” notes Hall.

Vendor support has been critical to the success of this training. “Our vendors provide equipment that is geared to a winter Arctic spill response scenario. Very few of our students have ever attended an oil spill trade show or conference, so they are not familiar with individual company representatives. These are true frontline end-users, deploying the equipment without the controls that might be present in a vendor demonstration,” Hall outlines.

Unique oil spill cooperative

ACS is a non-profit, incorporated oil spill response cooperative whose current membership includes oil and pipeline companies that engage in or intend to undertake oil and gas exploration, development, production and/or pipeline transport activities on the North Slope of Alaska.
“We are a unique oil spill cooperative in that ACS provides its member companies with extensive oil spill management and response training, oil spill research and development, and day-to-day field environmental and spill response support,” says Hall.
“Our operations are focused on Alaska’s North Slope and selected areas of the Alaskan Outer Continental Shelf and adjacent shorelines coupled with the Trans-Alaska Pipeline from Pump Station One to Milepost 167,” Hall concludes.

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