Oil spills

Tag: Oil spills

Close up of oil on water collected behind an oil boom. Photo: WA Department of Ecology (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/2f25AiG

Risk of a major oil spill generates action in Olympia

This week, our magazine Salish Sea Currents takes an in-depth look at ongoing legislative activity to prevent oil spills in Puget Sound. PSI senior writer Christopher Dunagan reports on the push to adopt new rules to counter-balance the increasing risks of tanker collisions and potential catastrophic spills.
Among the concerns: About 1,300 tanker ships, of all types, pass through Puget Sound every year. That number is expected to rise, and the greatest increases are anticipated in Haro Strait and Boundary Pass — the traditional feeding grounds for Puget Sound endangered orcas.
One of the bills in question, House Bill 1578, seeks to reduce spills in part by employing rescue tugboats that could help steer ships through dangerous passages. You can read the full story in the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound. We’ll have more updates as the legislation moves toward a vote.

Guide cover

A guide for oil spill response

Puget Sound’s ports are expected to grow rapidly in coming years, on pace with the region’s urban areas. More ships on the water could mean more accidents. Some management efforts can lessen the risk of a spill in Puget Sound. Lower speed limits for ships, more onboard monitoring, rescue tugs and double hull fuel tank protection are some of the options being proposed. But no efforts can eliminate the risk of all accidents.
In 2017, the Puget Sound Institute on behalf of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife produced a quick guide listing some of the actions volunteers can take in the event of a spill. While response efforts are complex, one of the best things volunteers can do is to observe the extent of a spill and note the effects on wildlife. In some cases, volunteer observers for groups like the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) run by the University of Washington and the Puget Sound Seabird Surveys (PSSS) run by Seattle Audubon are already trained in oil spill observation.
We invite you to read the guide which is now available on the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound. 

Guide cover

A guide for oil spill response

Puget Sound’s ports are expected to grow rapidly in coming years, on pace with the region’s urban areas. More ships on the water could mean more accidents. Some management efforts can lessen the risk of a spill in Puget Sound. Lower speed limits for ships, more onboard monitoring, rescue tugs and double hull fuel tank protection are some of the options being proposed. But no efforts can eliminate the risk of all accidents.
In 2017, the Puget Sound Institute on behalf of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife produced a quick guide listing some of the actions volunteers can take in the event of a spill. While response efforts are complex, one of the best things volunteers can do is to observe the extent of a spill and note the effects on wildlife. In some cases, volunteer observers for groups like the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) run by the University of Washington and the Puget Sound Seabird Surveys (PSSS) run by Seattle Audubon are already trained in oil spill observation.
We invite you to read the guide which is now available on the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound. 

The importance of synthesis to disaster planning and response

Deepwater Horizon oil spill, 2010. Photo courtesy of NOAA.
Deepwater Horizon oil spill, 2010. Photo courtesy of NOAA.

The U.S. government spends billions on disaster relief every year—$136 billion between 2011 and 2013 alone—but one crucial area tends to be overlooked. There are often major gaps in the scientific understanding of the environments in question.
When disasters hit, responders must often play catch up, using valuable time assessing prior ecological conditions or pulling together scattered sources of information.
In a recent paper in the Washington Journal of Environmental Law & Policy, Center for Urban Waters Distinguished Scientist in Residence Usha Varanasi proposes a new model for disaster-planning and response, in which baseline ecosystem data and syntheses are collected in advance of possible incidents. She calls it “frontloading the science,” and you can download the paper at the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound.
Citation:
Varanasi, Usha (2013), Making Science Useful in Complex Political and Legal Arenas: A Case for Frontloading Science in Anticipation of Environmental Changes to Support Natural Resource Laws and Policies, Washington Journal of Environmental Law & Policy, Vol. 3, Number 2.

The importance of synthesis to disaster planning and response

Deepwater Horizon oil spill, 2010. Photo courtesy of NOAA.
Deepwater Horizon oil spill, 2010. Photo courtesy of NOAA.

The U.S. government spends billions on disaster relief every year—$136 billion between 2011 and 2013 alone—but one crucial area tends to be overlooked. There are often major gaps in the scientific understanding of the environments in question.
When disasters hit, responders must often play catch up, using valuable time assessing prior ecological conditions or pulling together scattered sources of information.
In a recent paper in the Washington Journal of Environmental Law & Policy, Center for Urban Waters Distinguished Scientist in Residence Usha Varanasi proposes a new model for disaster-planning and response, in which baseline ecosystem data and syntheses are collected in advance of possible incidents. She calls it “frontloading the science,” and you can download the paper at the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound.
Citation:
Varanasi, Usha (2013), Making Science Useful in Complex Political and Legal Arenas: A Case for Frontloading Science in Anticipation of Environmental Changes to Support Natural Resource Laws and Policies, Washington Journal of Environmental Law & Policy, Vol. 3, Number 2.

Frontloading the science in anticipation of environmental disasters

Dr. Usha Varanasi
Dr. Usha Varanasi

A recent paper by Center for Urban Waters Distinguished Scholar in Residence Usha Varanasi discusses the decline in America’s baseline ability to use science to plan for and assess highly likely environmental disasters, such as oil spills.
This article first appeared in the May 2012 issue of the journal Fisheries, published by the American Fisheries Society. It is reprinted with permission of Fisheries and the author. Dr. Varanasi is an adviser to the Puget Sound Institute. Read more

Frontloading the science in anticipation of environmental disasters

Dr. Usha Varanasi
Dr. Usha Varanasi

A recent paper by Center for Urban Waters Distinguished Scholar in Residence Usha Varanasi discusses the decline in America’s baseline ability to use science to plan for and assess highly likely environmental disasters, such as oil spills.
This article first appeared in the May 2012 issue of the journal Fisheries, published by the American Fisheries Society. It is reprinted with permission of Fisheries and the author. Dr. Varanasi is an adviser to the Puget Sound Institute. Read more

Screenshot of NOAA's ERMA online mapping tool

PSI collaborates with NOAA on Puget Sound maps

The Puget Sound Institute is collaborating with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to enhance a new web-based mapping resource for Puget Sound. The project will utilize NOAA’s Environmental Response Management Application® (ERMA) within the Institute’s forthcoming Encyclopedia of Puget Sound to bring together a wide array of GIS and oceanographic data. ERMA was first used extensively in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and the same mapping application is now being customized for the Puget Sound watershed and Northwest area.
Read more