Major Oil Spill Exercise Planned Spanning 11 States

St. Louis-The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) are co-sponsoring a full-scale exercise to test the National Response System as a result of major oil and hazardous substance releases in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, as well as separate oil and hazardous substance releases in the Great Lakes as a result of a tornado.“Timely, effective response to emergencies requires constant practice and preparation. The SONS exercise provides us with an excellent opportunity to test our capabilities and those of other responders before a real disaster occurs,” said Mary Gade, Regional Administrator for EPA Region 5.

The Spill of National Significance (SONS) oil spill response exercise will last 3 days, span 11 states, and include the participation of USCG, EPA, National Response Team/Regional Response Teams (NRTs/RRTs) as well as state agencies, local agencies, and private industry.

The exercise will involve the mobilization and deployment of response personnel and equipment, and the establishment of incident command organizations in response to numerous simulated spills of gasoline, oil, diesel and other hazardous materials.

“Hurricane Katrina demonstrated that any major disaster calls for effective, coordinated responses across many agencies and their plans. The lessons we learn during SONS will be incorporated into the plans and systems that work in concert to allow the most effective response possible to a complex real-world disaster,” said Rear Adm. Wayne Justice, the Coast Guard’s Director of Enforcement and Incident Management, who will be role-playing as the Commandant during the exercise.

The SONS exercises, mandated by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, have established common goals and improved the oil spill preparedness and response capabilities of the government and petroleum industry.

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