Last week Tim Williamson and I headed down to Monterey for the EROS Conference (Environmental Response to Oil Spills). The conference is sponsored by OSPR (The Office of Oil Spill Prevention and Response from the California Department of Fish and Game and NOAA (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). The goal of the 4-day conference was to assist the response community to prepare for response activities in the marine environment in California. The course content was comprehensive and the pace was fast and furious to cover the broad spectrum of topics including: Composition of oil and weathering, petroleum fingerprinting, fisheries closures, effects of oil on ecosystems, oil spill modeling, legal issues, ESI (environmental sensitivity indexes), RAR (resources at risk), SCAT (shore line cleanup assessment teams), bioremediation, on-water countermeasures, NRDA (natural resource damage assessment), and wildlife operations.
The experience was wonderful. All the lecturers were knowledgeable and completely open for questions from the audience. The OSPR and NOAA staff were wonderful hosts. We send special kudos to them for developing an interesting curriculum that was targeted to be accessible and useful to the attendees. We all appreciated the wet labs where we broke into teams for table top as well as field exercises. The labs broke up the lectures nicely and allowed the attendees to get to know each other better. One of the best aspects of the conference was the diversity of the attendees. There was a fairly equal spread amongst state, federal, local governments, contractors, NGOs, and “others” (which included OWCN). The labs allowed us to work together as teams, share our strengths, and learn from each other. Plus, it wasn’t too shabby to be able to spend time outdoors on the coastline around Monterey. The weather even cooperated. While it was pouring rain everywhere else in California (including Santa Cruz), we enjoyed partly sunny to cloudy weather and warm temperatures. Overall, it was a great experience that will help OWCN staff to be even better prepared to respond in the event of an oil spill.