Jeremiah Tumulty (left) and Brandon Andrews help deploy an oil boom during a training exercise on Sept. 21. Central Whidbey Island Fire and Rescue personnel assisted from the district’s boat. (Laura Guido / Whidbey News-Times)

Jeremiah Tumulty (left) and Brandon Andrews help deploy an oil boom during a training exercise on Sept. 21. Central Whidbey Island Fire and Rescue personnel assisted from the district’s boat. (Laura Guido / Whidbey News-Times)

In case of oil spill, mussel farm and agencies are prepared

Trained employees have their names added to an emergency-response list.

By Laura Guido / Whidbey News-Times

It took the group of eight people on the boat 25 minutes to deploy about 300 feet of orange tubing around one of Penn Cove Shellfish’s harvester boats.

“That’s pretty easy,” said Allen Macham, a vessel operator with National Response Corporation, as he pulled the boat around so the group could gather up the oil boom.

“Usually it’s two people and 1,000 feet. It takes an hour, three bottles of water — it’s a lot of work.”

By the end of the day, 22 Penn Cove Shellfish employees became certified through the NRC to respond to an oil spill. The training happens every year, but Friday marked the first time in several years it took place on the water.

“They liked it,” said Dominic Pangelinan, human resources and compliance official with Penn Cove Shellfish. “It was a nice departure from the classroom setting.”

Central Whidbey Island Fire and Rescue, the Island County Sheriff’s Office and county emergency management also participated.

The participation of the fire district was serendipitous. Pangelinan said the company called law enforcement to let them know ahead of time that Friday’s activities were for training purposes only and it wasn’t a real oil spill.

“They wanted to participate as well,” said Pangelinan. “In a real situation, you’d be dealing with these types of people.”

On the land, the employees learned how to put on personal protective equipment and how to take it off without contaminating anything. They learned how to use large pompom-looking items, called oil snares, to absorb leaking oil from the beach.

If a spill occurred in or near Penn Cove, the NRC has the trained employees on a list of people it can call to help. The international organization has offices in Burlington and Seattle.

Pangelinan said the employees feel more confident in their ability to respond to an incident after the hands-on experience.

“I hope we never have to respond to an oil spill,” he said.“But at least we’re prepared.”

This story originally appeared in the Whidbey News-Times, a sibling paper of The Daily Herald.

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