Coast Guard, Government Agencies Conduct Oil Spill Response Exercise at Limetree Bay Refinery

Coast Guard, federal and local agencies are a team of emergency responders conducting an oil pollution exercise. (Submitted photo)

Coast Guard, federal and U.S. Virgin Islands emergency responders, in cooperation Limetree Bay Ventures LLC, conducted an oil pollution response exercise on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Limetree Bay Refinery facility in Christiansted, St. Croix.

The government-led functional exercise is a part of the National Preparedness for Response Exercise Program (PREP) required under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.

“These exercises are of the utmost importance to the collective preparedness and readiness of federal, local and industry emergency responders in cases involving a major pollution incident or a natural disaster in the U.S. Virgin Islands,” said Capt. Gregory H. Magee, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan. “The people of the U.S. Virgin Islands deserve the best plans and response to any given incident. To achieve this, it is crucial our Area Contingency Plan remains current and that our response community stays proficient in the execution of the plan during a real-world incident.”

“Limetree Bay appreciates the continued partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, as we work to further our commitment to occupational safety and environmental stewardship,” said Jeff Charles, Limetree Bay vice president of terminal operations.

“The restart of operations at Limetree has been made possible through a collaborative relationship with our government partners and investment in state-of-the-art equipment and upgrades. This week’s exercise is an important component of Limetree’s comprehensive commitment to environmental protection and the health and safety of our employees and the St. Croix community,” said Charles.

During the exercise, participants deployed response equipment to contain a simulated major waterside oil spill at the Limetree Bay facility.

The U.S. Coast Guard alongside federal and local area partners conducts emergency preparedness and pollution response exercises every year as part of established multiyear strategies to build capabilities and improve readiness levels. Planning, training and exercising are important components of the nation’s homeland security strategy and response capabilities.

U.S. Coast Guard practices an oil spill response exercise. (Submitted photo)

The goal of the exercise is to evaluate the ability of the response organization in utilizing the National Incident Management System Incident Command System as a response management system to form a Unified Command and provide a competent response and initial assessment of the potential impacts of an oil spill.

The exercise also seeks to validate the Limetree Bay Facility Response Plan and current notification procedures and processes listed in the Area Contingency Plan that emergency responders are to follow during an oil pollution incident in the USVI.

Emergency response equipment and vehicles that will be deployed to the Limetree Bay facility from federal, local and industry emergency responders include tugboats, skimming vessels and oil containment boom.

The joint response exercise involved federal, state, local, area and private responders, including the U.S. Coast Guard’s District Seven, Sector San Juan and the National Strike Force; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; U.S. Fish and Wildlife; U.S. Virgin Islands Office of the Governor; U.S. Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency; U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Natural of Planning and Natural Resources; DPNR’s Division of Fish and Wildlife; the Tristate Bird Rescue and Research Inc.; North Coast Harbor Safety and Security Committee for Puerto Rico; and National Response Corporation and FR Consulting LLC.