EOC exercises response to fuel spill scenario

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Michael Washburn
  • 355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Imagine if thousands of gallons of jet fuel spilled on D-M. What kind of environmental repercussions would it pose? Who would clean it up? How do you effectively return to normal operations?

These types of questions and concerns may arise if a situation like this were to happen. D-M held a training exercise here Nov. 15-16 specifically tailored to this scenario.

"As part of the National Preparedness for Response Exercise Program, it was brought to the attention of the base that we need to look at our bulk fuel storage as a possible threat." said Staff Sgt. Lisa Mitchell, 355th Civil Engineer Squadron readiness and emergency management flight non-commissioned officer in charge of plans and operations. "D-M is required to demonstrate our ability to respond to a fuel spill."

The emergency operations center served as the main ingredient in this exercise. Fifteen agencies and units are assigned to the emergency operations center and play a role in response to any incident on the installation. Those who participated included the 355th Medical Group, 355th Security Forces Squadron, fire department and air-field management amongst others. The exercise is part of a tri-annual cycle, meaning every three years a fuel spill exercise must be conducted.

Just because training is mandatory every three years, doesn't mean a fuel spill should be taken lightly. The consequences of a spill could be disastrous, Mitchell said.

"The impact could be huge, not just for anyone who may have been injured during a fuel spill," Mitchell said. "We also have to deal with environmental factors. We have both water sources and drainage on the installation and only half a cup of fuel could contaminate 30,000 gallons of water. It could have quite an impact."

These exercises are nothing new to the base. D-M has been doing them for the past 10 years, Mitchell said. This past December, the base participated in a worst-case scenario fuel spill. This exercise was a medium fuel spill with 20,000 gallons of JP-8 jet fuel.

"There's a federal law that requires every base to do these exercises," said 1st Lt. Thomas Synovec, 355th CES, readiness and emergency management flight officer. "It's to help prevent fuel spills from impacting the environment in a negative manner."

Fuel depot and fuel storage units can be potential targets to our enemies. Training for an incident such as this means that even if it happens, those individuals who would respond will be better able to resolve the situation.

"The big reason why we have these exercises is to help reduce that chaos period, that initial time right after an incident," Synovec said. "We want everyone to know how to respond. It helps limit the duration during a contingency."