Contributed photo/ Julie Knight. Alwyn Jones and Steve Lillestol set oil containment boom around the MV Sanctuary in Judd Cove. IOSAs main response vessel, the Sea Goose, is in the background. Photo by

Contributed photo/ Julie Knight. Alwyn Jones and Steve Lillestol set oil containment boom around the MV Sanctuary in Judd Cove. IOSAs main response vessel, the Sea Goose, is in the background. Photo by

Help prevent oil spills | Guest column

Submitted by IOSA

When hearing about an oil spill, people often wonder how they can help and what it takes to respond to a spill. Those who like to work on the water or want to know how to care for oiled birds might be interested to learn Islands’ Oil Spill Association is presenting trainings this fall where they can learn how to do these things and more.

The community has a unique situation in the San Juan Islands. Being a distance from the mainland, IOSA was created to be a first line of defense when oil is spilled. Volunteers are the backbone of the organization.

IOSA volunteers are needed to help clean up and prevent oil spills, protect sensitive shorelines, learn how to capture and care for oiled birds and help with the logistics of making all that happen. Volunteers respond to boat fires, sinkings, groundings, leaks, oil in storm drains and mystery spills. IOSA responders set oil containment booms around ground to prevent any diesel or oil that leaks from spreading. In a larger spill, IOSA responders set oil containment booms to protect predetermined sensitive areas.

So many are discouraged by the problems with the environment, becoming an Islands’ Oil Spill volunteer is a way to turn discouragement into positive action.

On June 5, IOSA volunteers responded to an oil slick after the MV Sanctuary caught fire and sank in Judd Cove, south of Eastsound. To keep any remaining fuel from leaking 300 feet of oil containment boom was set around the vessel while staff waited for Global Diving and Salvage to come and pump off the fuel and eventually raise the vessel. This is an example of what IOSA volunteers do to prevent damage to the waters and wildlife of the San Juan Islands.

Come learn how to help protect the special environment, in which we live. In September, two oil spill drills are coming up where potential volunteers can learn to set oil containment boom to protect a particular bay. To set containment boom, first learn and practice the basics of handling it, then go out on a response vessel to practice in the waters and currents of a specific bay.

Oil spill deployment strategies are practiced on a regular basis every spring and fall at different bays and sensitive areas in San Juan County. The first of the upcoming drills will be on Saturday, Sept. 8, on the west side of San Juan Island. The next drill, on Friday, Sept. 21, will be at Stuart Island and will be done in cooperation with the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation.

All volunteers need to take safety training which will be offered on Nov. 3. IOSA will also offer trainings in Oiled Bird Search, Rescue and Basic Care.

To be able to help in the event of an oil spill, pretraining is required. Contact Islands’ Oil Spill Association in any of the following ways: send an email iosa.robyn@rockisland.com, sign up on the website at iosaonline.org or call 360-468-3441.

 

Contributed photo./ Allen Rosenberg. Jerry McElyea helps retrieve oil containment boom after the spill in Judd Cove. Ken Weatherill is driving one of IOSAs response vessels, The Green Heron.

Contributed photo./ Allen Rosenberg. Jerry McElyea helps retrieve oil containment boom after the spill in Judd Cove. Ken Weatherill is driving one of IOSAs response vessels, The Green Heron.