Emergency responders to conduct oil spill PREP Exercise in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico – Coast Guard, federal and Puerto Rico emergency responders in cooperation with Shell Trading (US) Company and O’Brien’s Oil Pollution Service are scheduled to conduct a joint oil pollution response exercise at the Shell Chemical Yabucoa, Inc. facilities from May 27 to 28.

The government led exercise is a part of the National Preparedness for Response Exercise Program (PREP) required under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.

“It is critical that federal, local and industry partners continue to collectively exercise their emergency response capabilities for major oil spills or natural disasters,” said Captain Eduardo Pino, Commander, U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan. “We owe it to the people of Puerto Rico to have the best possible contingency plans and disaster response.”

Exercise participants will deploy response equipment to an oil spill simulated at Shell Chemical Yabucoa, Inc. facilities from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. Residents should not be alarmed by the increased presence of emergency responders and response equipment in the Municipality of Yabucoa and the Shell Chemical Yabucoa, Inc. facilities 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 the Shell Chemical Yabucoa, Inc. Facility Response Plan and current notification procedures and processes listed in the Area Contingency Plan (ACP) that must be followed by emergency responders during an oil pollution incident in Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The joint response exercise involves approximately 125 federal, state, local and private responders from the local area including the U.S. Coast Guard’s District 7, Sector San Juan, and National Strike Force; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Puerto Rico’s State Emergency Management Agency, Environmental Quality Board, Department of Natural and Environmental Resources and Electric Power Authority; Shell Chemical Yabucoa, Inc., Marine Spill Response Corporation, American Tugs, Obrien’s Oil Pollutions Service, National Emergency Management Implementation Consulting Corp. (NEMIC), Caribe Hydroblasting Environmental Division, (CHED,) and COM Environmental Services and Clean Harbors.

Emergency response equipment and vehicles that will be deployed to the Shell Chemical Yabucoa, Inc. facilities from federal, Puerto Rico, municipal and industry emergency responders include police vehicles, fire trucks, tug boats and the Coast Guard’s Vessel of Opportunity Skimming System (VOSS).

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