Navy to conduct oil spill drill near Fort Ward Park

The Washington Department of Ecology and the United States Navy will test an oil spill response strategy at Fort Ward Park on Bainbridge Island as part of an exercise simulating a large release of oil from a vessel near Blake Island later this month.

The training exercise is planned for Wednesday, Sept. 17.

Officials said the large-scale exercise occurs once every three years and is designed to test how the Coast Guard, the Department of Ecology, local and tribal government representatives and other oil spill response industry partners work together to manage a large spill that could affect many beaches and waterways in the Puget Sound.

When a spill occurs, these entities plan to mount a rapid, aggressive and coordinated response by identifying and protecting pre-identified sensitive historical and environmental resources like parks, fish bearing streams and public water intakes.

The drill will test a newly designed strategy to collect oil near the shoreline and minimize impacts to the beach.

The drill will also test the Navy's oil spill contingency plan that is required by Washington state law. By participating in the drill, the Navy will satisfy part of Washington's oil-spill preparedness requirements.

On the day of the drill at the beach, several Navy boats will deploy equipment around the beach area and shoreline.

Currently, there is no geographic response strategy specifically designed to protect Fort Ward Park.

No oil will be discharged during the exercise, officials said.

Representatives from Ecology will observe and evaluate the planned drill at Fort Ward Park.


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