As part of its environmental stewardship efforts, the Walla Walla District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expanded its 2013 annual oil spill training exercise at Lower Granite Lock and Dam on the lower Snake River. Several county agencies adjacent to the Lower Granite pool participated in this exercise in the first such collaborative training effort. Training with other agencies enhances each agency’s readiness.
The Corps’ goal was to foster closer working relationships with cooperating, responding and reporting agencies in case of an oil spill on the lower Snake River near Lower Granite. The Corps works closely with nearby responding agencies such as law enforcement and emergency management if an oil spill is discovered.
The training prepared participants to respond potential oil spills from sources such as recreational or commercial watercraft, shoreline industrial activities or the dam itself. The Corps responds to oil spills at its locks and dams regardless of the source. The Corps also reports oil spills to appropriate federal and state agencies. When oil appears to be coming from upstream of a Corps dam, the Corps works with other agencies to identify the source of the spill in addition to controlling the spill. The Lower Granite pool reaches from the dam to eight miles up the Clearwater River and eight miles up the Snake River from the confluence at Lewiston, Idaho.
The June 26 exercise involved practical open water oil spill control activities. Training included boom deployment using both watercraft and shore anchors. The Corps hosted the training. Sara White, environmental protection specialist, was exercise director. Mike McCain of the Washington Department of Ecology led training.
Agency participation in the June 26 exercise included Whitman County Emergency Management, Sheriff and vessel, and Public Health: Nez Perce County Sheriff and vessel; Asotin County Fire and Rescue and vessel; and Washington Department of Ecology’s Spill Preparedness and Prevention response team.
Corps participation included Lower Granite Project personnel and “Granite Pride” vessel, Little Goose Project personnel, and Clarkston Office personnel and Park Ranger vessel.