Oil and gas companies should prioritize developing an oil spill preparedness plan to manage inherent risks with the business.

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Pipeline companies often have numerous potential impact zones across vastly diverse terrains with multitudes of emergency response obstacles. Because a single oil spill can have a significant or catastrophic impact on downstream environments, it is imperative to create a pre-planned, coordinated response effort.

Throughout the duration of a spill response, responders may be required to employ various downstream tactics applicable to the various response site. Oil spill tactical response plans provide the position specific information to assist responders along the spill route.

Off-site spill responses and containment efforts present unique challenges compared with spills occurring within the confines of a facility or secondary containment. Offsite spills require a higher level of coordination and communication in effort to minimize impending impacts. Those challenges include, but are not limited to:

  • Response time must be minimal due to spill flow rate and travel distances
  • Potential substantial equipment deployment
  • Waterway access points
  • Coordination and cooperation efforts with private landowners
  • Require extensive geographic surveys
  • Associated increased costs of deployment
  • Consequential costs associated with long-term cleanup activities
  • Extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats, fishing, and/or tourism industries
  • Potential lawsuits
  • Exercises must include outside entities

Tactical response plans contain numerous geographical fixed response actions for the various off-site tracts in the path of an oil spill. These planning tools assist in the implementation of an overall response strategy by minimizing the potential travel distance of a spill. When spills migrate off site, it is essential to have plans in place that have been developed in cooperation with those in the potential path of a spill. Communication with downstream counterparts lessens spill response anxieties and promotes company/community partnerships.

Objectives of Oil Spill Tactical Response Plans

Through the planning process, information is gathered to identify the course of action that is necessary to achieve a successful response at the specific downstream location. The primary objectives of tactical response plans are to:

  • Allow response personnel to prepare for and safely respond to spill incidents
  • Ensure an effective and efficient response despite geographical challenges
  • Identify potential equipment, manpower, and other resources necessary to implement a spill response
  • Outline response procedures and techniques for combating the spill at a specific location
  • Improve regulatory compliance efforts

Details of Oil Spill Tactical Response Plan

The tactical planning process identifies the “how” a downstream response will be implemented at a specific location. Tactical planning provides site-specific focus to the comprehensive emergency response plan. They apply a response perspective with specific short-term actions and details that allow responders to best access, assess, and quickly respond to offsite spills. Tactical response exercises will better prepare responders for the potential conditions and actions required at the site.

Tactical spill plans should include the following:

  • Various photographs of each segment (including ground and aerial views, if possible)
  • Maps
  • Latitude and Longitude
  • Land/property owner information
  • Driving directions to the site from main roads
  • Description of potential staging area(s)
  • Specific response tactics for the site location
  • Description of site and applicable waterways
  • Site access specifications
  • Necessary security requirements
  • Waterway flow rates and composition
  • Any critical response information that may be informative to responders
  • Recommended equipment and personnel to implement response strategy
  • Other site specific pertinent issues that may hinder a response

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