Exercise and evaluation of the Pacific Annex of the Joint Contingency Plan Between the United Mexican States and the United States of America Regarding Pollution of the Marine Environment by Discharges of Hydrocarbons or Other Hazardous Substances (MEXUSPLAN) uncovered a significant need for joint training between spill responders, planners, decision-makers and stakeholders on both sides of our border.

Sponsored by U.S. Coast Guard District 11 (USCG Dll) and the Second Mexican Naval Zone (ZN2), a series of training sessions were held for Mexican officials from the Northern Baja California region and Mexico City in early 2003. The first of these well-attended sessions was held in two locations: San Diego, CA and Ensenada, Mexico in February 2003. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Hazmat facilitated the first session, the Joint Mexico-United States Oil Spill Science Forum. It provided a scientific view of oil spills. The following joint session facilitated by USCG Dll and held in Ensenada was a tabletop exercise designed in preparation for the signing of the MEXUSPAC Annex. Through the use of a spill drill scenario, this session included instruction and dialogue about the roles and responsibilities of both U.S. and Mexican spill responders. Both sessions included presentations from several agencies of the Regional Response Team IX/Joint Response Team: U.S. Dept. of Commerce, U.S. Dept. of the Interior and California's Office of Spill Prevention and Response. Industry partners also contributed topics of discussion, further complementing the U.S. response landscape. Mexican response agencies, including PEMEX, SAGARPA, SEMARNAT and PROFEPA, provided valuable input ensuring dialogue helping to identify additional joint response gaps. Upon the most significant gaps brought to light was the need for additional information regarding dispersant use by Mexican agencies, particularly in light of the approaching international SONS Exercise in April 2004. To this end, USCG Dll and NOAA HAZMAT developed and presented a modified Ecological

Risk Assessment for their Mexican counterparts. Hosted by ZN2 in October 2003, this highly successful workshop brought together many key decision makers, planners and stakeholders from both sides of the border to discuss tradeoffs inherent in the use of existing spill response tools, including dispersants. Joint training and discussion sessions such as these are key to ensuring any measure of success in a joint spill response. Several additional training and discussion topics designed for the Mexican-U.S. joint response forum have been identified with many in the planning phase. Acknowledging the similarities as well as differences in response systems of our two nations' is essential to the success of these joint collaborations. Such continued efforts will help bridge existing gaps.

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