The Refugio Incident occurred May 19, 2015 along the Gaviota coastline in Santa Barbara County, California. The spill impacted many miles of shoreline and a variety of habitat types. Habitats impacted included exposed wave-cut platforms, man-made structures, cobble, fine-grained sand and boulder beaches. Because of the large scale response, Shoreline Clean-up Assessment Technique (SCAT) surveys were utilized to provide a more systematic assessment of impacted shorelines following a standardized approach. SCAT packets were created to document the progression of clean-up and to direct the Operations Section on where, what, and how to clean the shoreline. One difficulty with this response was that the spill occurred along a dynamic shoreline that constantly changed; and the response was in an area with known significant natural oil seepage. Photographic monitoring points were established throughout the impact area which showed dramatic changes along the coastline throughout the response. A few months into the response, sand and kelp accumulated along the shoreline covering up the incident oil making it difficult to complete the clean-up. SCAT maps were created to make sure that impacted areas that had been previously documented as needing to be cleaned were eventually addressed once the sand eroded from these areas. There was about a two month long time frame where the beach appeared to be clean because of the natural buildup of sand and kelp that covered some of the contamination. The SCAT maps helped to direct the Operations Section by visually identifying specific areas within each segment that still needed cleaning. During a large scale oil spill response when many miles of coastline are impacted in a dynamic environment, it is important to document in a systematic way all field observations so all areas impacted are eventually addressed. This provides the response and the Unified Command with direction and guidance to remediate the spill while taking into account a Net Environmental Benefit Analysis to ensure the established clean-up endpoints are met.
Refugio Incident SCAT Operations for Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties Case Study
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Jennifer Gold, Mia Roberts, Michael Connell, Melissa Boggs, Keith Posekian, Diana Grosso; Refugio Incident SCAT Operations for Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties Case Study. International Oil Spill Conference Proceedings 1 May 2017; 2017 (1): 2017048. doi: https://doi.org/10.7901/2169-3358-2017.1.000048
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