Spill response is the first opportunity to minimize natural resource injuries by ensuring that spill response actions are implemented in an environmentally sound manner. Scientific support is often required to assist the responsible party in efficient and effective spill response to address injuries claimed by third parties. Implementation of scientific support during an oil spill response also provides the client with a critical head start to Natural Resource Damage Assessment. POLARIS personnel have extensive experience in addressing the scientific issues surrounding effective countermeasures and cleanup, habitat prioritization and protection, shoreline assessment and identification of appropriate cleanup techniques, as well as third-party claims for affected fisheries, private properties, tour operators, pleasure boats, beaches, and other tourist attractions.
Natural resource injuries that remain following response and cleanup actions are subject to damage assessment and compensation claims from trustees. Current federal and state statutes and regulations provide authority to natural resource trustees to recover damages resulting from injuries to natural resources, which may include restoration of injured resources. A natural resource damage assessment process, involving scientific, economic and legal disciplines, is typically initiated by state and/or federaltrustees of the environment and incorporates technical studies to quantify natural resource injuries and scale restoration actions. Responsible parties for oil spill incidents can participate in technical studies or conduct independent studies in defense of responsible parties. While POLARIS provides services for a broad spectrum of technical studies required by our clients, we often identify the scope of work, a qualified contractor, and provide oversight for the client.
POLARIS personnel have provided scientific representation for damage claims ranging from simple to highly complex that require several years to settle. These natural resource damage claims have been based in marine, estuarine, freshwater and terrestrial environments and have included natural resources such as fisheries, birds, marine mammals, wetlands, coral reefs, aquatic and terrestrial vegetation, sand dunes, water, sediment, invertebrates, recreational use, and threatened and endangered species.
Grounding of FORTUNA REEFER, Puerto Rico
Our scientists have been at the forefront of oil spill research on the fate of stranded oil and shoreline treatment methods for over 20 years. POLARIS scientists have designed and conducted large-scale experimental oil spills in Baffin Island (198083) and Svalbard, Norway (199798). For the past seven years, our scientists have been conducting field and laboratory research on the role of fine particles in both natural and enhanced weathering of stranded oil. POLARIS scientists recently conducted field studies on the optimization of hydraulic washing techniques for the treatment of oiled coarse sediment beaches on the northwest coast of British Columbia, Canada.
sampling Pt. Judith Rhode Island
Following an incident that injures a natural resource, federal and many state regulations require compensation for the loss of the injured resources. The intent of these regulations is to restore services provided by the injured resources either directly, by creation of similar services such as habitat, or by enhancing the quality of available habitats. Such projects may include habitat creation, restoration, conversion of use, land acquisition, providing in-kind services, repair of injured communities, and/or harvest modification.
POLARIS personnel have acted as the technical representative for responsible parties on restoration projects. Our services include: trustee liaison, development and assessment of alternative restoration/ compensation options, innovative conceptual project designs, project design coordination, permitting, contractor selection, and monitoring of construction and performance criteria.
Restoration experience includes projects in stream enhancement, seagrass transplantation, lacustrine, estuarine, marsh and intertidal habitat creation, dune creation and revegetation, coral reattachment, recreational opportunities and fisheries compensation. We take pride in developing innovative and cost-effective solutions.
reef restoration following the grounding
POLARIS provides spill response, prevention and contingency planning for regulatory compliance, including integrated response plans, fleet plans, spill and operations manuals, and practical guidelines for response personnel.
POLARIS staff has been responsible for the preparation of over 100 spill contingency plans and has formulated the response plans for the certified Response Organizations within Canada. Our scientists are leaders in the development of shoreline cleanup and assessment manuals recognized and adopted by organizations throughout the world.
Grounding of M/V KUROSHIMA, Dutch Harbor, Alaska
POLARIS offers training programs in spill contingency plan development and implementation. Vessel, facility, and/or response personnel are presented with the objectives and strategies for developing spill contingency plans that address regulatory requirements and provide a sound basis for actual emergency response. For plans that have been developed, POLARIS offers a course on plan content, use, and application that provides a formal and documented review of a plan for regulatory compliance with training requirements. Typically, the course is complemented by a tabletop exercise to review the practical application of planned response.
POLARIS also offers training in the incident command system (ICS) for spill response, following the guidelines adopted by the National Interagency Incident Management System (NIIMS). The ICS training can range from an introductory course in ICS principles and application to a complete in-depth program. The course is formatted to meet the clients application of ICS to their own spill response program. As with the spill plan training, ICS training is often tied to a tabletop exercise. POLARIS has also developed training materials in Spanish for ICS.
POLARIS offers 1, 2 and 3-day Shorelines and Oil Spill Response training courses that provide a basic introduction to coastal processes, shoreline character, and the fate and behavior of spilled and stranded oil. The lectures and course notes, which present a standardized methodology for the documentation and description of oiled shorelines, address response, protection, and treatment operations in context of the cleanup decision process and the development of practical operational plans and strategies. Such strategies may include risk management objectives including short and long term third party exposures, as well as natural resource damage assessments. A key component of the training is the field site visits where first-hand knowledge is gained by application and discussion of classroom material. Since 1977, over 150 courses have been given throughout North and South America, Africa, Australia, and Russia.
A spill management and response
training course has been developed specifically for cold climate
and ice conditions. For more information on these courses, click here.
POLARIS scientists pioneered
the use of aerial videotape surveys for shore-zone mapping, coastal
inventories, and oil spill countermeasures planning beginning
in 1979. To date, they have videotaped over 30,000 km of coast
for shoreline sensitivity mapping and for oil spill countermeasure
planning and cleanup operations. Spill response support using
these methods was conducted by current Polaris staff throughout
the EXXON VALDEZ response and during Desert Storm operations.
POLARIS personnel have been key members of design, preparation, and control teams for a number of spill response exercises. These teams are responsible for formulating the Exercise Plan through a series of established exercise objectives. Preparation for exercises entails development of scenarios, formulation of evaluation guidelines and forms, and scripting of exercise inputs. Generally, key members of the exercise design team participate in the exercise in one or more capacities: controller, facilitator, coach, evaluator, or participant. POLARIS staff has participated in numerous drills representing responsible parties.
and fuel oil release,
POLARIS personnel have conducted numerous marine habitat assessment studies including: biological and environmental assessments, baseline and mitigation studies, and project impact studies. These studies have been conducted in support of marine construction and other projects in Puget Sound and the Pacific Northwest. Polaris personnel have conducted baseline and mitigation monitoring studies which involve: 1) dive surveys of subtidal macroalgae, eelgrass, geoduck and fisheries habitats, 2) beach surveys of intertidal macroalgae, invertebrate and fish spawning habitats, and 3) sampling of epibenthic and benthic invertebrates. The results of these surveys have been incorporated into Environmental and Biological Evaluations and Assessments of potential project impacts on marine and fisheries habitats, including potential impacts on Pacific Northwest salmonid species recently listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. Some of these projects have also involved the preparation of habitat mitigation plans designed to compensate for these impacts, if required. In addition, Polaris has conducted basic research and other projects on cleaning techniques for oiled coarse sediment beaches, statistical analyses of survey data, and extensive literature research on marine habitats and organisms for incorporation into project reports.
Port Orchard, Washington