California has approximately >10,000 vessels calling its ports each year, and 200–300 facilities state wide, many of which are required to have a California Oil Spill Contingency Plan (Contingency Plan) on file with Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR). Spill Management Teams (SMT), either staffed by Contingency Plan holders' employees or contracted out, and the use of the Incident Command System (ICS) structure must be described in these plans. OSPR introduced an unannounced SMT drill program (Program) in 2012 to ensure that Contingency Plan holders can successfully complete the proper initial notifications, activate their SMT, and use ICS in accordance with their approved Contingency Plan and California Code 820.01, Drills and Exercises.
There are multiple goals of this Program, including the enhanced capability of SMTs, OSPR, and other partners. This Program provides continued education and training for Contingency Plan holders and SMTs in an effort to bolster the initial response phase of an actual incident. Through these drills, SMTs must demonstrate that they could make proper notifications and decisions during an actual incident and be staffed with trained personnel in ICS to fill positions before State and Federal representatives respond. Additionally, SMTs should deploy resources listed in their approved Contingency Plans and ensure those resources are up to date, available, and sufficient. Furthermore, drills provide an opportunity for OSPR and SMTs to build relationships through testing these procedures, which should make the initial response more efficient and effective. Lastly, the drills are often conducted with representatives from United States Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency, both of which have their own drill programs. Working in conjunction with federal partners ensures continuity and fewer required drills of SMTs.
Since the beginning of the Program, SMTs continue to improve their response capabilities, validated by more successfully completed unannounced drills. OSPR has conducted 30 unannounced drills, all of which were on SMTs for marine facilities and vessels. With the expanded authority of OSPR to regulate facilities statewide in 2015, this Program will continue to grow. Ultimately, a more comprehensive Program should lead to enhanced SMT capability statewide, and therefore better protection of the State's natural resources overall.
The goal of this poster will be to describe: 1) the history and purpose of this Program; 2) the lessons learned and improvements of SMTs and Contingency Plans; and 3) the expansion of the Program from marine to statewide.