Examining the Impacts of the Oil Spill at Refugio State BeachMay 29 2015
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On June 10th, we set out together with our partners at Santa Barbara Channel Keeper on their boat the R/V Channel Keeper. We headed to Naples Marine Protected Area (MPA), which is just a few miles down current from the Refugio Oil Spill Site. We had a few VIPs along with us, a reporter from Rolling Stone Magazine and an oil spill documentary producer. We launched our OpenROVs and inspected the ocean floor on the current facing side of the MPA. Luckily we can report that we did not see any oil on the benthos (sea floor), but many more surveys are necessary to have a complete grasp of any deposition.
After pursuing the proper channels, we were not given permission to enter the oil spill site. Without a clear idea as to the condition of the ocean floor, we partnered with Santa Barbara Channel Keeper, and set out to examine the area that is just outside the closed areas.
We set out aboard the R/V Channel Keeper with their program director Ben.
After some precipitation from the previous night, and from a plankton bloom, visibility was poor. We were unable able to survey all of our intended sites, but we were able to get the area directly off shore from the spill site.
We did not see any evidence of oil visually. We plan on heading out again next week to further investigate the ocean floor proximal to the beach closures.
We are preparing to deploy our ROVs and sensors into the oil spill site, and to examine the sea floor for any deposited oil, or affected sea life. We are awaiting approval from the Unified Command. Whenever there is a large scale disaster, whether it is a large fire, earthquake, oil spill or something else, there is a system in place to manage it. It was designed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is called the Incident Command System. (ICS) The ICS essentially establishes a chain of command in regard to an incident, and there are delegated positions within an incident, and it is often not limited to only one agency, those who arrive first assume command, then pass it off and necessary. In the case of the Santa Barbara Oil Spill, the Unified Command is comprised of the: Coast Guard, National Guard, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Environmental Protection Agency, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Transportation and local government. (refugioresponse.com)
Being that this event is both a physical, and a health hazard, there are many factors that go into managing an incident like this. The area is completely closed off, and authorization for any activity within the site requires express written permission and proper training.
I spent many years as a Paramedic and I am used to operating in situations like this, but not all have, so I'd like to talk a little about an effort to help in a situation like this entails, so others in the future can know the risks and understand the steps that are involved. This will be a bit lengthy, for the internet world, the TL;DR is: Be safe, educate yourself, and realize that though the red tape can be exhausting, it is there to reduce the likelihood of injury.
Read more at aarr.piratelab.org/uncategorized/300
Needed: Atlas Scientific Dissolved Oxygen Probe
Paul indicated the crew needs an DO Probe. If you have one we can use and you're in the Southern California area, please let us know. Or, if you're interested in donating one (or the $$ to buy one) that'd be great, too!
We're headed down to Santa Barbara to examine the effects of the oil spill on Refugio State Beach. We'll be using new tools to get different perspectives on the damage, as well as prototyping and documenting methods for citizen scientists to respond to environmental crisis in the future.
We'll be working with Paul Spaur, who runs the AARR-Pirate Lab at CSU Channel Islands. Paul and his students have extensive experience with the area as well as with the technology. Our goal is to live stream footage from beneath the surface to get a sense for how the oil spill is affecting the intertidal areas.