NOAA 2002-156
Contact: David Miller
NOAA News Releases 2002
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Team Advises on Oil Spill Response & Restoration

At the request of the Spanish government, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will send four oil spill response experts to help predict the movement of the oil slicks and advise on methods of cleaning Spain’s northwest coastline in the aftermath of the Presitge tanker spill. NOAA is the lead U.S. science agency for oil spill response and restoration with experts who provide technical assistance on environmental and economic impacts from catastrophic spills. NOAA assisted in the clean up efforts in the Exxon Valdez oil spill and those of the Gulf War. NOAA is an agency of the Commerce Department.

The multi-disciplinary team of NOAA scientists will arrive in Spain on Wednesday, Nov. 27, to work with the Spanish Maritime Safety Agency. Three from the NOAA National Ocean Service’s Office of Response and Restoration will be joined by a NOAA Fisheries scientist to provide assistance in the following areas:

  • Forecast oil spill fate and trajectory
  • Shoreline clean up by environmentally protective means
  • Restoration options for natural resources
  • Long-term recovery monitoring of oiled coastline
  • Fisheries management and contaminant expertise
  • Managing seafood health issues
  • Environmental injury assessment
  • Assess economic damages and natural resource injuries

“Our ability to respond quickly and professionally in this type of disaster is a hallmark of this agency,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “I’m pleased that NOAA experts can provide assistance to the government of Spain and its coastal communities.”

Upon arrival NOAA personnel will meet with officials from the Spanish Maritime Safety Agency and receive detailed status reports. Following those briefings NOAA will commence a series of overflights and coastal surveys of the affected areas. “Our team is looking forward to working with their Spanish counterparts,” said Dave Kennedy, director of the NOAA Office of Response and Restoration, and lead responder to the Exxon Valdez spill. “We have significant experience in oil spill modeling and observation, assessing shoreline and beach terrain, determining the petroleum product characteristics, and the ability to evaluate the impact to the region’s fisheries. All of these skills will prove helpful in assisting Spanish officials deal with this spill,” added Kennedy.

NOAA responds to over 100 hazardous materials and oil spills every year. During an incident in a coastal area, scientists from NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) determine what type of product was spilled, where will the product go and what will it impact, and finally how can the effects of the spill be reduced. On scene coordinators lead the response, calling on NOAA experts at OR&R’s office in Seattle, who provide oil and chemical trajectory estimates, chemical hazards analysis, and assessments of risks to coastal animals and habitats.

NOAA studies the Earth’s natural systems in order to predict environmental change, manage ocean resources, protect life and property, and provide decision makers with reliable scientific information. The agency’s goals and programs reflect a commitment to these basic responsibilities of science and service to the nation for 32 years.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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