It’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security

Fall is drill season. Starting in late August, most days of the week, OWCN staff receive phone calls from oil producers reporting oil spills all along the California coast. Lucky for all of us, these disasters are not real. They are just part of the drill process set up by OSPR to keep us all prepared to respond to the spill that will eventually happen.

The Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) and the US Coast Guard are two of the reasons California is so lucky. Every day their personnel work tirelessly at preventing spills through inspections, developing cooperative working relationships with oil producers, and training workers on safer ways to transport/transfer petroleum products.

To realize how much we, the wildlife responders, rely on our colleagues, one has only to look at the news. In California the Cal Spill Watch Twitter page reports only good news: no reports of any spills requiring action since August 24th and the significant birth of a sea otter pup to “Olive the Oiled Otter”. Olive was oiled and successfully rehabilitated in 2009.


Sadly, the rest of the world is not so lucky. Within the two last two days a tanker truck in Denver, Colorado leaked 400 gallons of oil into a storm drain, State Route 87 near Phoenix, Arizona was closed after a truck spilled liquid asphalt, Gulf Coast responders continue work to clean up tar balls left over from the DeepWater Horizon spill after Hurricane Isaac flushed them up and, most concerning, Shell was forced to suspend drilling in the Chukchi Sea (off the Alaskan coast) due to a 360 square mile piece of pack ice drifted too close to the site.

Drilling rig in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea (Photo from

Pack ice in the Chukchi Sea (Photo by Jiri Rezac Greenpeace)

Oil Spill near Denver (Photo by Helen H. Richardson: The Denver Post)

The lesson is that while we should enjoy the good times, we also need to stay prepared. September is a great time to pull out your Go Bag to update its contents, confirm availability with folks you are planning on taking care of your house or pets, and double check that you have a system in place to take care of financial matters such paying bills, etc.











For more information on Olive and her new baby and to follow tweets on current oil spill response activity in California check out Olive also has her own Facebook page at:!/OlivetheOiledOtter

See the following websites for more details:

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