Buzzards Bay Project NEP logo

Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program

1999 Oil Spill Funding Press Release


Contact: Dr. Joe Costa
November 5, 1999

Bay Project funds oil spill training for Buzzards Bay officials

Wareham -- Tomorrow and next Saturday, municipal officials from around Buzzards Bay will be participating in oil spill training and field exercises on oil spill containment boom deployment. Tomorrow's training will be held in the Town of Falmouth, beginning with a morning lecture at the Gus Canty Recreational center and continuing field exercises on Great Pond near Maravista Avenue. The training in New Bedford on Saturday November 13 will be held on East Rodney French Boulevard near the start of the hurricane barrier.

The training exercises are being funded by the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program which hired the Massachusetts Maritime Academy to conduct the training. Ed Irving and Ed O'Brien of the Maritime Academy are instructors for the course. Fire Chief Ron Scott of Mattapoisett, Fire Captain Steven Chmiel of New Bedford, Deputy Fire Chief Rogers of Falmouth are helping coordinate the field exercise. The Buzzards Bay NEP funded this training at the request of the Buzzards Bay Action Committee, an organization of municipal officials from around Buzzards Bay who are working toward implementing recommendations in the Buzzards Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan

Captain Chmiel and Chief Scott have been working together for the past 4 years with oil spill coordinators from around Buzzards Bay to improve emergency response and coordination among the area's municipalities. According to Chief Scott, "Our earlier training exercises were a great success. We had excellent participation by the towns, and we learned a lot about the difficulties of dealing with oil spills."

According to Buzzards Bay NEP Executive Director Dr. Joe Costa, the course is meant to help Buzzards Bay municipalities provide a first response to an oil spill until the Coast Guard and state officials can arrive on the scene. According to Dr. Costa, his program provided more than $40,000 to municipalities around the bay in since 1992 to purchase oil spill containment equipment such as booms, storm drain covers, absorbent pads, as well as support equipment such as splash suits and survival suits to help handle spills in cold water, as well as training. Costa emphasized "we believe that better local government preparedness as important step in minimizing the impacts from oil spills, especially smaller spills near shore. We think that this work by the fire chiefs and harbormasters around Buzzards Bay is a great idea."

Buzzards Bay was the site of several major oil spills in past decades. The grounding of an ocean liner in Buzzards Bay in the early 1990's and a major spill off Rhode Island prompted area municipal officials to assess their ability to respond to both small spills and large catastrophic ones. According to the Buzzards Bay NEP, more than 2000 tankers and barges carrying three billion gallons of oil travel through the Cape Cod Canal annually. Additional shipments arrive in New Bedford Harbor. Most frequently, however, oil spills are small and near shore.