Tag Archives: drill

IOSA Receives Funding for New Round of Oil Spill Response Trainings in 2018/2019.

Do you love to work on the water?

Would you like to learn how to protect a shoreline from oil?

Want to help search for and do initial care of oiled birds?

Would you like to do support or help with logistics at an oil spill?

Come learn the basics of oil spill response at an Islands’ Oil Spill Association training session!  

Thanks to funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which we were recommended for by NOAA, IOSA has an ambitious list of trainings coming up between now and October of 2019.

Here is the schedule for 2018.

CANCELLED  — June 2nd, Saturday, Search & Rescue of Oiled Birds on Lopez

In this class, we will teach you how to search for and rescue oiled birds, provide initial care, practice handling live ducks, and learn of safety concerns.  We will also spend some time on the beach practicing how to do search and capture of oiled birds.


June 9th, Saturday  Oil Containment / Geographic Response Plan (GRP) Drill at Nelson Bay, Henry Island

This containment drill and boom deployment will take place on the west side of San Juan Island. The structure of the drill will include initial training/review of different techniques, assignment to boats and specific tasks, use of the incident command system, a safety briefing, and use of an oil spill scenario.  This geographic response plan strategy is SJI-23-HEN and you can find it at the Ecology website, click on San Juan Islands/North Puget Sound and go to page 4-39 http://www.oilspills101.wa.gov/northwest-area-contingency-plan/geographic-response-plans-grps/list-of-geographic-response-plans/ .  If you have a boat you would like to use at this drill or at any other oil containment drill, please let us know.

Setting oil containment boom to divert oil away from a sensitive bay.

September 8th, Saturday  Oil Containment / Geographic Response Plan Drill on the West Side of San Juan Island

This drill will be similar to the above drill at Nelson Bay, but will be at a different place on the west side of San Juan.  There are a number of Geographic Response Plan (GRP) strategies in the area that you can check out at the above link.  See map on page 4-18 of the GRP’s.

September 21st, FRIDAY    Geographic Response Plan Drill at Prevost Harbor on Stuart Island with Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC)

This is a special drill that will be done in coordination with Western Canada Marine Response Corporation, as we may end up working with them on a spill on the west or north side of San Juan County in the future.  The strategy for this drill will be SJI-11-STU (see page 4-38 of the GRP’s, see above link).  Also note that this drill will be on a FRIDAY, not our usual Saturday.

Boom across east entrance Prevost Harbor
Oil containment harbor boom attached to east side of Prevost Harbor.

October 13th, Saturday  Search & Rescue of Oiled Wildlife on Orcas.

This class will be held on Orcas Island.  Look at above description of the training on June 2nd for more information.

Oiled Bird Search, Rescue, and Initial Care Training at Lopez Center.

November 3rd, Saturday  Hazwoper Safety Training on Lopez Island.

This will be a Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response training.  This training is necessary for anyone wishing to respond to an oil spill where you may be near oil (for wildlife and containment response).  We are updating this class and it will include an oil spill scenario.

Practice pulling someone (in this case our dummy Ray!) up onto a boat after they have fallen into the water.  (Remember, always use your knees when lifting!)

November 10th, Saturday  ­Air Monitoring / Site Safety Training

In this class you will learn how to do air monitoring at an oil spill for substances such as Hydrogen Sulfide and Benzene.  There will also be instruction in site safety.  You will need to be able to be contacted quickly in the event of an oil spill, because air monitoring must be done before we can work on the scene.  This training is focused on people who live part or full-time in the San Juan Islands.

IOSA responders on the Sea Goose read the gas meter and record their findings.

Spring of 2019, Deterring Orca from Entering Areas of Spilled Oil.

This exercise will expand on the Deterrence Exercise held in May of 2018.  We will incorporate lessons learned in the last exercise, and train new people in this hazing technique of using the oikomi pipes.   In the event of a large oil spill many of our regular responders will be working doing other tasks, so we need people who would just focus on deterring Orca from areas of oil.  If you are interested in protecting the Orca and have your own boat, please come join us next year.  You can sign up below and we will inform you of the date around the end of the year.

IOSA responder hits an oikomi pipe during an exercise to practice deterring Orca from an oil spill.  Photo by Lindy McMorran

Providing Support for an Oil Spill Response.

One of the areas of an oil spill that is very important is support and logistics.  In a larger oil spill help is needed in many of the following areas:

  • Transporting responders, equipment and oiled birds by car or boat.
  • Providing support at the Command Center, Staging Area, or Oiled Bird Initial Care Center.  This can be everything from signing people or equipment/supplies in and out, preparing snacks, lunches, beverages, being on call for first aid, filling out forms, calling responders to work the next day . . . The list goes on and on.
  • Logistics:  What equipment is needed where?  How do we get it there?  Where do we order it from?

While we don’t have any trainings set up in this area at this time, we would like to get a list of people who are interested in support functions and have a meeting sometime in the near future.  Please sign up below if you are interested in helping in a support function at an oil spill.

For more information on any of IOSA’s trainings, contact us at iosa.robyn@rockisland.com.

Preregistration is required for all of IOSA’s trainings and drills.

**If you are interested in helping to protect the environment and animals of the Salish Sea, please sign up below.**



A beautiful Common Murre, fully waterproof!



How to Deter Orca from an Oil Spill

Islands’ Oil Spill Association held an exercise on May 12th to test a method to deter Orca from areas where there are large amounts of spilled oil.  The exercise was held in conjunction with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Washington State Department of Ecology as part of the Governor’s Executive Order to protect the Southern Resident Killer Whales.

The method used was to hang oikomi pipes (8’ long pipes made with reverberant metal) from the boats and then the pipes are struck with hammers or rebar at two second intervals.  The pipes make a discordant noise that is not harmful to the whale’s hearing.  The boats line up beam to beam, holding their positions relative to the other boats.  One of the interesting parts of the exercise was determining the best way to deploy the pipes from the boats in such a way that 80% of the pipe was underwater and people were still able to be in a comfortable position to strike the pipes for long periods of time.

IOSA volunteer demonstrates using the Oikomi pipes.

Many different types of boats were used and it was a challenge with the different size boats and varying shapes of the keels to keep the boats in as close to a line as possible.  The volunteers did a great job of figuring out the best way to hang the pipes from the boats.  The boat captains were very skillful in keeping their boats lined up.  Another strategy was tried with the boats lined up in a U shape to see if that worked better in terms of disseminating the sound outwards.  Dr. Val Viers of Orcasound Lab recorded the sounds with his hydrophone so they can be analyzed later (at IOSA’s last exercise five years ago the sound levels were from 118 to 132 decibels).

In Barnes Lake, Alaska, this method was used to move Orcas out of an inlet with a shallow entrance that the whales were reluctant to cross.  The method was successful in moving the whales back into the ocean.

Eight boats from San Juan County and one from Whatcom County participated in the exercise with 37 volunteers.  Participants came from Washington State Parks, Phillips 66, Pacific Whale Watch Operators, Whatcom County Marine Mammal Stranding Network, and all over San Juan County.  IOSA thanks everyone who gave of their time to participate in this exercise!

Don Noviello of Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife describes how to use an Oikomi Pipe to IOSA volunteers.

Please contact us if you are interested in participating in our next exercise in 2019 (date yet to be determined).  We need more people and boats participating that would not be doing oil spill containment or search and rescue of oiled wildlife in the event of a large oil spill.  If you are a boat owner or whale watch operator who would like to participate in this exercise, please fill in the below form and we will notify you when we set a date for the next exercise.

This exercise was funded by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation 

2015 IOSA Newsletter

Please read our most recent newsletter to get updates on Islands Oil Spill Association activities in 2014 and 2015.

2015 IOSA Newsletter PDF1

2016 Oil Spill Response Trainings – Updated 5/14/2016

May 21st, 2016 Oil Containment Drill — All Spaces Filled Up.

On May 21st, 2016 IOSA will hold the first oil containment drill of the year at False Bay, San Juan Island.

We will practice the Geographic Response Plan strategy for this location.  We have had numerous drills at False Bay and each time we refine our response strategy more.   If you would like to check out the response plan strategy for False Bay, check out this link at Washington State Department of Ecology and go to page 212 out of 247,   http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/spills/preparedness/GRP/SJI.NPS.GRP/Chapter4a-SJI.pdf 



Other Trainings Scheduled for 2016

  • September 3rd or October 29th
    (Date will be confirmed later this summer.)
    Wildlife Search & Rescue and Primary Care Training

    This training in the rescue and basic care of oiled birds will be held in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, OR on Lopez Island.

    Wildlife Care Training
    Wildlife Care Training
  • September 17th and October 1st
    Wildlife Search & Rescue Training
    Oil Containment Drill at Buck Bay

    We are not yet sure which training will be on which day, so if you are interested in either of these trainings, put both days on your calendar and check back here in August.  Or you can fill out the contact form that is above.

    Search & Rescue practice on the beach sneaking up on a
    Search & Rescue practice on the beach sneaking up on a “bird” (the person with the pink ball).
  • October 15th
    Westcott Bay Oil Containment Drill
    In this drill we will be testing out various strategies for Westcott Bay.  To check out the response plan strategies for Westcott Bay, Horseshoe Bay, Garrison Bay and Delacombe Point, check out this link at Washington State Department of Ecology and go to pages 156-157, 160-169 out of 247,  http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/spills/preparedness/GRP/SJI.NPS.GRP/Chapter4a-SJI.pdf

    Oil containment boom deployed at Westcott Bay.
    Oil containment boom deployed at Westcott Bay.

Upcoming Orcas Containment Drill Oct. 10th

A containment drill has been scheduled for Saturday, October 10th, 2015 on Orcas Island.  This is the only drill scheduled for this fall, so make sure to register soon if you wish to attend.   While we would love to have everyone attend the drill who wants to, we do have to limit participants.

IOSA responders on the Green Heron setting an anchor and attaching buoys at a drill.
IOSA responders on the Green Heron setting an anchor and attaching buoys at a drill.

At this drill we will be practicing Geographic Response Plan strategies (specific goals to protect certain  sensitive areas), as well as our regular work of deploying oil containment boom, setting anchors, and working closely with other teams on other boats.

If you are interested in attending this drill, send an email to iosaoffice@rockisland.com.

Preregistration is required for all Islands Oil Spill Association trainings.

We look forward to hearing from you!

September 20, 2014, Drill on the West Side of Orcas Island


Sea Goose and Green Heron at Drill on September 21st.
Sea Goose and Green Heron at Drill on September 21st.

On September 20, 2014, IOSA held an oil containment drill on the west side of Orcas Island. One of the first things that was done was to discuss the currents in the area. Current tables are a good first step in looking at how water moves through an area, but we have also found that it is important to incorporate people’s personal knowledge of the currents. Using people’s personal knowledge gives us information about particular quirks of current and tides that is not always found in published information.

Green Heron and the Whale Fish towing oil containment boom in a V configuration.
Green Heron and the Whale Fish towing oil containment boom in a V configuration.

One of the tasks for the drill was to run the rope mop skimmer.   Another important priority was to practice towing boom with two boats working in close coordination.  They needed to maintain a V-shape in the boom while traveling at a slow speed and intercepting “imagined oil/oiled debris” (or in this case, intercepting the nylon-covered hoops used to simulate oil or debris).

As with a spill response, during the drill we needed to adapt quickly to changing circumstances.   As the situation unfolded our best option was to use the rope mop skimmer on the bow of the Sea Goose, positioned at the apex of the V-shaped boom.  Two vessels, the Camp Orkila boat the Whale Fish and one of IOSA’s response vessels, our landing craft the Green Heron, set up to pull 200′ of 20″ oil containment boom behind them.

Rope mop skimmer operates from the Sea Goose.
Rope mop skimmer operates from the Sea Goose.

rope mop skimmer operation box

The rope mop skimmer uses a line of oleophyllic mop material (the yellow “tail” seen in the above photo). Oleophyllic means it adheres to oil and not water.  The rope mop skimmer works best with heavier oil such as bunker fuel (which is a mixture of heavier oils and lighter oils).

The Green Heron and the Whale Fish tow oil containment boom ahead of the Sea Goose.  Yellow nylon-covered hoops float into the boom (simulating oil).
The Green Heron and the Whale Fish tow oil containment boom ahead of the Sea Goose. Yellow nylon-covered hoops float into the boom (simulating oil).

The two vessels towing the boom and the Sea Goose traveled together through the water while the skimming was happening. Responders on the vessel the Little Whaler helped set up the rope mop skimmer, as well as deploying nylon hoops into the water to simulate oil.  Usually we deploy the rope mop skimmer from land, but  practiced using it from a vessel this time.

Rope Mop Skimmer deployed from shore.
Rope Mop Skimmer deployed from shore.

Another aspect of the drill was to set up oil snare on a beach. Oil snare is used to pick up heavier oils (like bunker fuel).  The snare adheres to oil as it reaches the beach, the oil accumulates on the snare, and when covered with oil it is removed from the beach.

Oil snare set up on beach.
Oil snare set up on beach.

The line of oil snare was attached to fenceposts and we discussed how to use it. The use of a shoreline attachment plate was also demonstrated. The plate can be used to anchor boom to the beach, especially helpful for shoreline where there are no large boulders or trunks of large fallen trees to tie to.

While out there, one vessel, the Octopii, did a wildlife survey of the area. Numerous seabirds and seals were seen, including a flock of phalaropes. Knowing what seabirds congregate in different areas is important knowledge to have before an oil spill.

Thanks to both West Beach Resort for letting us have temporary use of their dock for a pre-drill briefing and Camp Orkila  for use of the beach for set up of the snare and post-drill briefing for the crew.

Twenty-five people from Lopez, Orcas, San Juan, and Waldron participated in the drill, with two IOSA boats and three responders’ boats. The drill was highly informative and successful.  It was a good exercise for the responders and boat operators, and contributed to our knowledge of the area.