Monday, June 14, 2010

Drill, Baby, Drill!

Drill, baby, drill--Alyeska style. As a retired fire chief, when I hear "drill, baby, drill" I think of a drill as a wheels-rolling exercise to keep your emergency responders in a state of ready. Here's last week's scenario for Alyeska Pipeline Company in Valdez, Alaska: Alyeska Terminal was notified that oil tanker TT CARRIER while outbound had a collision with M/V FRIDGE approximately 9 miles from Naked Island. TT CARRIER was proceeding normally inside the outbound shipping lane abreast of Naked Island loaded with 807,344 barrels of Alaska North Slope crude oil (nearly 34 million gallons). At approximately 06:00 CARRIER suffered a significant collision with a refrigerated cargo vessel (M/V FRIDGE). CARRIER's port side was compromised, opening 3 compartments and discharging oil. The vessel is listing. There are injuries on board FRIDGE. In accordance with the response plan, Alyeska takes initial action which includes notifying the shipper's company to dispatch their overhead team to Valdez. Alyeska conducts realistic on-water spill drills annually, pipeline drills much more often, and drill for contracted fishing boats (boom handlers) regularly. They've been doing it for 20 years now. Drillers and shippers in the Gulf of Mexico better drill, baby, drill this way. Incidentally, when I and other Alaska fire chiefs began training Alyeska and its owner-companies, we were conducting 6 - 9 drills every year. The bigger drills cost over a million dollars each.