At any given time, the Coast Guard RDT&E program is working on more than 80 projects that support the Coast Guard’s short, medium and long range requirements across all major missions.
With the reduction of ice during recent winter seasons, there is the potential for an increase in vessel and barge traffic in those waterways that would normally be closed for the winter. This factor, along with an aging Great Lakes petroleum pipeline infrastructure, increases the potential for accidental discharges.
To help address these concerns, the Research and Development Center (RDC) is evaluating emerging cold weather oil recovery technologies and techniques; and documenting any observed performance gaps. A series of increasingly complex demonstrations have been started in the Great Lakes; and are planned to proceed to Alaska.
The RDC just completed a second oil-in-ice demonstration within Sector Sault Ste Marie at St. Ignace, Mich. Among the participants were representatives from both the sector and station, 9th District response advisory teams, oil spill response organizations, National Strike Force and Enbridge Energy Partners. The objective of this demonstration was to evaluate response capabilities in cold weather by leveraging Coast Guard and other local assets in the Great Lakes before conducting a more complex demonstration in Alaska.
The demonstration scenario involved a fabricated leak from a pipeline in the open waters of the Mackinac Straits in northern Michigan. With this demonstration, a knowledge base has now been initiated for Coast Guard and commercial responders in the Great Lakes that increases the spill response capability in this region; and provides valuable input for the 17th District when considering response options in their area.