Deployment drill of MFSA set for today
October 3, 2019
The Maritime Fire & Safety Association (MFSA) will conduct an equipment deployment drill of its oil spill response resources on Thursday, October 3 on the Columbia River near Cathlamet. This drill is a critical component of the MFSA Vessel Response Plan.
The MFSA maintains a state approved oil spill contingency plan for commercial ships that call on ports along the Lower Columbia River from the mouth near Astoria to the I-205 bridge and on the Willamette from its confluence with the Columbia to the Willamette Falls. The Plan supports the maritime system by giving a comprehensive, knowledgeable and affordable means for vessels from all over the world to meet the additional requirements imposed on the unique Lower Columbia River System.
The MFSA and their response contractors work closely with both states to plan and evaluate these drills to ensure their effectiveness. Under the MFSA Plan, responders have access to nearly five million dollars worth of response equipment that is staged throughout the Lower Columbia River Maritime Transportation System – allowing a rapid, coordinated and aggressive response to be initiated in an emergency.
Deployment drills are conducted no less than twice a year in accordance with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Washington Department of Ecology and United States Coast Guard. Drills are performed to test the Plan’s response capabilities in different areas along the Lower Columbia River System and in various conditions to engage different equipment types needed in oil spill response.
Because there are so few actual spills, due to prevention measures, drills are a critical component to maintaining knowledge and demonstrating skills. Elizabeth Wainwright, Executive Director of the MFSA commented, “The ships come and go, but the Plan – equipment and people – are always here and prepared to respond.”
The MFSA, a non-profit organization, was established in 1983 by industry to support regional capabilities in the event of a ship board fire. After the Oil Pollution Act (OPA 90) was passed, the oil program was added to address specific state preparedness and response regulations. The Plan covers over 1,500 vessels each year to meet the high standards established by Washington and Oregon. The program is supported by the ships that are covered by the Plan.