San Juan, Puerto Rico – Coast Guard, federal and Puerto Rico emergency responders in cooperation with the maritime industry are scheduled to conduct a joint oil pollution response exercise in San Juan and Cataño, Puerto Rico Thursday and Friday.
The exercise is a part of the National Preparedness for Response Exercise Program (PREP) required under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.
“This full scale exercise is instrumental for federal, state and municipal agencies as well as our maritime industry to assess and improve our ability to coordinate and employ our emergency response capabilities during a major oil spill in Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands,” said Captain Michael B. Zamperini, U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan deputy commander.
As part of the exercise a Unified Command will be established at the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board in San Juan. Oil spill response teams participating in the exercise will also be deploying response equipment Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. as part of a simulated oil spill response at the Cataño Oil Dock, the Puerto Nuevo River entrance and “Punta Cataño.” Residents should not be alarmed by the increased presence of emergency responders and response equipment in the area during the exercise.
The U.S. Coast Guard alongside federal and local area partners conduct emergency preparedness and pollution response exercises every year as part of established multi-year strategies to build capabilities and improve readiness levels. Planning, training and exercising are important components of the nation’s homeland security strategy and response capabilities.
The goal of the exercise is evaluate the ability of the response organization in utilizing the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Incident Command System (ICS) as a response management system to form a Unified Command (UC) and provide a competent response and initial assessment of the potential impacts of an oil spill. The exercise also seeks to validate current procedures and processes listed in the Area Contingency Plan (ACP) for emergency responders during an oil pollution incident in Puerto Rico.
The joint response exercise involves approximately 18 federal, state, and maritime industry responders from the local area including the U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan, Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT); the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife; Puerto Rico’s State Emergency Management Agency, Environmental Quality Board, Department of Natural and Environmental Resources Historic Preservation Office; Puma Energy, Total Petroleum, The Pipelines of Puerto Rico, Inc., Ardent Mills, AS Trading, “Molinos de Puerto Rico”, FR Consulting, Sea Star and Harbor Bunkering.