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March 3rd, 2010

Portland, Maine To Host US Largest Oil Spill Response Drill in March 2010

A major oil-spill response drill will take place off of the Eastern Promenade in Portland, Maine on March 24, 2010.  This drill will involve hovering helicopters, Coast Guard boats, Maine Marine Patrol vessels, and as many as 1,000 emergency workers.

The emergency workers will respond to an imaginary collision between a car carrier and an oil tanker in a strong winter storm, marked by frigid temperatures and limited visibility, somewhere 16 miles out in the Gulf of Maine.

The two-day exercise events led by the Coast Guard occur every three years around the country.  The drills prepare emergency workers and develop plans to prevent and control oil and chemical spills.  Portland, Maine is one of the largest oil-importing ports on the East Coast.

The activities on the water will include Coast Guard members and employees of the state and commercial sectors operating boats, barges and other vessels.

Among the tasks to be understaken, those involved will anchor a network of oil containment booms, test other equipment, and determine if emergency plans will work.

The operation is expected to have a limited effect on marine traffic in the Maine area.

The Coast Guard will broadcast information about the maneuvers on VHF channels 13 and 16 to alert mariners to a safety zone around the maneuvers.  Coast Guard officials said there will be no significant effect on ferries, fishing boats or commercial ships.

Instructionals like this are useful in understanding the causes of spills like the recent Texas incident in the Port of Port Arthur that closed the Intercoastal Waterway.  This spill was the largest spill in Texas since 1994.  If you have questions about the environmental impact of an oil spill, exposure issues related to an oil or chemical spill, or any injury which occurred while working for a maritime employer, please contact us at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers.

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