By Clark Pierce

 NAS Jacksonville environmental department personnel, boathouse crews, and a contractor response team learned their lessons Sept. 21-22 in order to effectively manage a simulated fuel spill on the St. Johns River near Hangar 1122.

"Our two days of classroom and on-water training centered around capturing the simulated diesel oil spill with booms, bringing it to the seawall ramp, and using a truck-mounted industrial vacuum to suck up the polluted surface water for disposal at the nearest oil/water separator - in this case, the helicopter wash rack behind Hangar 1122," said NAS Jacksonville Spill Response Manager Jim Taylor. 

When the first training session was declared by Taylor, Boathouse Division LCPO BMC Mark Brandt reviewed the scenario with his response team, "We're managing a simulated diesel fuel spill caused by accidently overfilling a SAR boat. The fuel hose had parted and about 20 gallons of fuel spilled into the river." 

As boathouse containment crews scrambled to launch their three utility boats with booms, Brandt reminded them to review their Material Safety Data Sheets that delineate the hazard identification and potential acute health effects of diesel fuel.

"In this scenario, OSHA-Level 'C' personal protective equipment was declared, which includes Tyvek coveralls, respirators, face masks and chemical-resistant gloves," explained Taylor. 

NAS Jacksonville Assist. Hazardous Waste Manager Jody Smith observed some of the training from the seawall. "I like how the boats and booms have slowly but deliberately brought the spill to this navy boat ramp on the St. Johns River seawall. Theoretically, the spill is in the apex of the U-shaped boom. At this point the vacuum skimmer is placed in the water to suck the polluted liquids into a tank truck that will transport the waste to an oil/water separator for disposal."

Brandt added, "This is great training opportunity for our NAS Jacksonville boathouse crew because they actually deploy boats and booms on the St. Johns River. It enables our coxswains to practice pulling boom in context with different weather conditions on the water."