Coast Guard Conducts Oil Spill Joint Training

The Gulf oil spill simulation is the first time the U.S. Coast Guard and Mexican Navy have trained together on a large scale.

The two governments signed an agreement last November to conduct the joint training.

Coast Guard Rear Admiral Joel Whitehead says the simulation takes place over the next two days near South Padre.

"This scenario we are using is a large vessel has collided with an oil rig of the coast- about ten miles of Texas. It has spilled about eight hundred and twenty-thousand gallons of oil, and this oil threatens environmental sensitive estuaries complexes in both southwest Texas and near the port of Tamalupas, Mexico."

It's a full-scale deployment of resources with cutters, helicopters, an Air Force C-130 and an oil spill boom.

There's a lot of personnel assigned to the training. In addition to the Coast Guard and Mexican Navy, a whole list of state and federal agencies are involved along with NOAA scientists and the Mexican oil company Pemex.

"We do oil spills all the time.ξξWhere it really gets a little tricky is when you have boarder issues, particularally national border issues, and if you haven't exercised and have your commnication set-up it gets defiffcult. Of cousre you have language barriers as well so we broght in translators for both sides.ξξξReally so far has been an excellent exercise."

Whitehead says while an oil spill isn't likely to happen, the proliferation of oil rigs and large vessels in the Gulf make it an obvious training scenario.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.
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