The U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian Coast Guard participated in joint oil spill drills late this spring in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
The drills were performed to test the activation and efficiency of a response plan known as the Canada-United States Joint Marine Pollution Contingency Plan, Pacific Annex (CANUSPAC Annex). The CANUSPAC Annex is a response plan designed to be used for environmental incidents that require international coordination.
A harmless dye was added to the water near Port Angeles and Fresh Water Bay to simulate an oil spill. Responders practiced containing the spill with vessels, boom, and skimmers. The drills were conducted with the partnership of the Washington Department of Ecology and the British Columbia Ministry of the Environment. Pollution response crews from both coast guards were present, as were other oil spill response organizations, state, and federal agencies.
Wildlife experts were present to ensure the area was clear of marine species. Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Marshall, the Marine Environmental Response Branch Chief for the Coast Guard’s 13th District said in a press release: “These types of joint exercises are a great way to test our preparedness to respond, build partnerships, test bilateral communications and improve our contingency plans.”