Galveston Bay Oil Spill 3/22/2014 - Call for Action
Beach Maintenance Advisory Committee
Nature Tourism Committee
East End Lagoon Committee
Master Naturalists and Other Concerned Individuals and Organizations
CALL FOR ACTION
We are reaching out to you to request your assistance and update you regarding the oil spill and the impact this incident has had on our parks along the ship channel and Gulf.
Since early Sunday morning Park Board staff has been on site at Seawolf and RA Appfel parks, including Big Reef Nature Preserve and East End Lagoon. Since Sunday these areas have been closed to the public due to the impacts of the oil spill. Immediate impacts included the direct landing of crude oil material on the shoreline, floating sheens of lighter pollutants on surface water and significant levels of airborne noxious toxins in the air.
Emergency response teams started to arrive on site 9:00 a.m. on Sunday to identify critical habitats and lay the first line of defense. Over the last two days, work has continued on fortifying defenses and protecting sensitive areas. Environmental quality indicators are being monitored continuously. (Remind us to have Chief P Davis tell the story of the ‘East End Pipe Bomb scare’.) In some of the most affected areas, remediation has already begun. In those areas where remediation is underway, hazmat teams are doing a noble job of clean up.
With that said, there are several areas that have not been protected or are inaccessible and not readily visible. Some of these areas contain the most critical habitats- such as the interior of the east end lagoon, the inlet channels of Big Reef and the coastal shores along Pelican Island.
According to official bulletins emanating out of the Joint Incident Command Center, the mass of slick has moved out of the ship channel and is expected to impact further down the coast (Matagorda – Lavaca area). What we are left dealing with is the residual effluents and masses that are lingering around the channel, jetties and our Gulf coast. Given predicted current changes and weather forecasts, this could drive material up on our beaches from Thursday to Friday. The West End is projected currently to get the brunt of the tar balls. Since Tuesday we are seeing half dollar sized globs from Dellanera Park to Indian Beach.
If currents turn rough and the weather is rainy during the remainder of the week, response efforts will be hampered.
At the same time, the impact further down the coast will shift emergency response (although we will have a local emergency coordination unit directly at the GI Convention Center beginning Friday) and media attention towards the affected area.
It is essential that we document the impact that the event has had with the intent of guiding immediate remediation efforts over the next two weeks and also ensuring that the impacted areas are restored over the medium term, including the establishment of extended monitoring programs.
For these reasons, we are reaching out to you to assist us with a rapid environmental assessment of several key areas, the identification of recommended monitoring points and the development of restoration environment and wildlife projects.
On Saturday, March 29th we will organize teams to visit affected areas along the coast to take pictures, gather data and produce a report. We will work from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 continuously and will provide breakfast and lunch. There are no ‘shifts’. Teams will be integrated with several volunteers of various skills and capacities and will work in the field and back in the office.
8:00 – 8:30 Registration, Identification and Team Assignment
8:30 – 9:00 Debriefing on Current Conditions and Projections
9:00 – 12:00 Deployment of Field Teams to Sites and Data Collection
9:00 – 12:00 Development of Report Format & Background Information by Base Team
12:00 – 1:00 Lunch
1:00 – 2:00 Report Redaction
Each field team will need to have the following skills:
Written notes documenting observations on environment and wildlife
GPS determination of specific contamination points
We are proposing aquatic teams to gather information from inside the lagoon, inlets and around Seawolf.
Field Teams will cover each of the following geographic areas:
Seawolf Park and surrounding areas
Pocket Parks 1, 2 and 3
San Luis Pass
Big Reef Inlets
East End Lagoon
East End San Jacinto Trail
Base Team will need skills to distill background information, compile information, create (GIS) maps and brainstorm restoration concepts for affected areas.
If you are interested in supporting this effort, and can participate in one of the above indicated manners, please enroll electronically starting at 4:00 on Wednesday:
Registration will be closed by Thursday at 5:00.
When volunteering, please indicate your preference for a field team or base team and identify which above mentioned skill you are offering.
If you come prepared to work in the field, please come dressed in closed toed work or walking shoes, long durable pants and long sleeves. Hats are also recommended. We will provide some equipment as well on site, such as gloves, pails and jiggers. (This is not a cleanup, rather an assessment!)
We would also ask that you bring a camera if possible. Also, if you have a lap top computer to help redact the final reports, please that as well.
If you have a question about the role you can play to assist, feel free to reach out to me directly at the number below or email below.
Kelly de Schaun
Galveston Island Park Board of Trustees
Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau
601 Tremont Street
Galveston Island, Texas 77550