Logo for: Moran Environmental Recovery
Emergency Response: 888-233-5338

Sustainability Stories

«  previous  |  1 2 4  |  next  »Displaying posts 11 – 15 of 20 

Earth Day Series- Newtown CT

Monday, March 14, 2022  by qrelihan

   This year in the weeks leading up to Earth Day, April 22nd I will be highlighting the work we do throughout the year as well as specific Earth Day clean-ups that our resource centers participate in that help to protect & preserve the environment.  The first feature is about our Newtown CT team and the clean-ups they have performed at Pequabeck River in Bristol, CT.

   The Pequabeck River Watershed Association is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to keeping the Pequabeck River clean (PRWA 2022). They host the Pequabeck River Cleanup annually and each year 5-6 Newtown personnel remove trash and litter from the banks of the Pequabuck River. In fact, General Manager Mike Barden and his team have performed in-kind services to the Pequabuck River Watershed Association to support their annual Community River Cleanup for the past 10 years.

   The team at our Newtown, CT environmental resource center leads our organization in supporting their local community.  Mike Barden and his team report that they pick-up about 1,000-2,000 lbs. of trash each April.  To put this in perspective, over the past 10 years the Newtown team has removed between 10,000 and 20,000 lbs. of trash from the Pequabeck River. 

    This year’s Community River Cleanup is on Saturday April 30th, from 8 am -12 pm in Bristol, CT.  The Newtown team cleans-up the river alongside boy scouts, girl scouts and other members of the community. Our employees are passionate about taking action to protect our waters and our climate. As a marine and environmental organization Moran is committed to doing our part to be environmental stewards, including treating every day as Earth Day.

facebooktwitterLinkedIn top Top > Comments   (0 comments)

Golden Ray Part 2: MER's Role

Thursday, February 10, 2022  by qrelihan

      In part 1 of my series on the capsizing of the Golden Ray vessel in St. Simons Sound off the coast of Georgia in 2019, I had the opportunity to speak with Jason Maddox from Gallagher Marine Systems who was the prime contractor on the project for most of the duration.  MER was activated the night the Golden Ray capsized and contracted within days of the incident to provide labor and equipment to provide environmental management services for the response, which is still happening now.   A response of this scale has significant environmental impacts to the ocean, the wildlife, the beaches, and the community; our role was imperative in mitigating those risks. Our Emergency Response & Preparedness Group led the effort through our MEMT team (Moran Emergency Management Team).  We had many employees who stayed onsite in Georgia for the duration of the response. Bernie Reagan provided local leadership and management of the project.

       When the response began, MER crews had upwards of 100 personnel and 18 vessels for oil recovery, debris removal, and disposal operations.  As the response progressed, fewer personnel were needed, and now there are 12 MER crew members working to clean up St Simons Sound.  The personnel that are there now are managing disposal operations, performing SCAT, and maintaining the safety vessel.  In fact, MER has been maintaining the safety vessel around the clock since the beginning of the response.  The safety vessel must always have three individuals on board, a captain, a deckhand, and a Gallagher representative.  This means that since September 8th, 2019, MER has helped man the safety vessel 24 hours a day.  During this 24 hour watch the three-man crew deploys pre-staged equipment to contain any oil releases or debris that they come across.  MER was able to do this despite many disruptions that slowed response and impacted the availability of personnel.

      Among those disruptions was COVID-19, which was mentioned in part 1 of this narrative series. COVID-19 required more time dedicated to developing a plan that allowed the response to continue while keeping the health and safety of the responders as the priority.  Bernie emphasized the same point that Jason Maddox had made that COVID-19 did not prevent response progress, but rather it added extra steps to daily operations that slowed progress.  For instance, MER personnel were divided into groups due to the many CDC guidelines and protocols they had to follow to continue their work safely.  Tasks often needed more time to be completed since there was an additional checklist regarding COVID-19 precautions that had to be adhered to.

      Along with COVID-19, the Golden Ray response also experienced a vessel fire.  The vessel fire put response efforts on hold for a little while, but according to Bernie, it was not as significant of a disruption as the pandemic.  Even though it put response efforts on hold, the priority was still maintaining a safe and healthy environment.  Safety crews were constantly monitoring air and water quality in the surrounding areas both before and after the fire.  The water and air quality levels were within healthy standards each time they were tested, which indicates how efficiently MER crews contained spills and minimized the overall threat (St Simons Incident Response 2021).  In fact, once the fire was under control, operations were able to continue without losing too much progress.

       A vessel fire was not the only disruption that threatened the environment, because as cuts to the vessel were being made there were a few large releases of oil.  This would disrupt the removal process of the vessel from the sound because crews had to turn their attention to containing and cleaning up the release.  MER crews deployed booming equipment to contain the oil instead of performing tasks that would move the response forward.  In addition to the booming equipment crews also used current busters, oil skimmers and barriers to mitigate the damage from the release (St Simons Incident Response 2021).  Therefore, MER’s ability to respond with equipment and personnel so quickly was critical to the success of the response.  The quicker the oil released can be contained the lower the risk it poses to surrounding beaches, wildlife, and community.  MER was able to provide the necessary equipment needed to respond to an oil release as well as provide additional crews and they were able to do so quickly which minimized the potential risk to the environment.

       These extra crews were needed to perform environmental monitoring tasks such as containing the oil with booming equipment and performing SCAT on the surrounding coastline.  MER still has crews there performing SCAT to check for damage to the environment and marine animals along the coast of St Simons Sound.  SCAT teams are specifically looking at the type of oil that has been released and a variety of factors that will determine the most effective clean-up method (NOAA 2021).  This includes natural removal rates, threat of human exposure and determining if it is more harmful to clean-up the oil or to let it breakdown naturally.  Throughout the response there have been no observed or reported impacts to wildlife in the area (St Simons Sound Incident Response 2021). MER crews will continue to prioritize the surrounding environment by walking the shoreline and checking for impacts from residual oil.  SCAT is also used to collect and properly dispose of debris that washes ashore. 

      Due to the dedication and consistency from MER’s management team, John Silva, Bernie Reagan, Alex Weeks, Toby Bouchard, and Sean Boyle, MER was able to provide additional crews and equipment with little notice and do so rather seamlessly.  Large oil releases from the Golden Ray meant that MER personnel not only had to adapt to disruptions like COVID, but they also had to go above and beyond by sending last-minute crews and equipment.  This was made possible because of the work done by MER’s management team and subcontractors, who consistently worked hard and showed up when needed.  In fact, Bernie emphasized how reliable the subcontractors MER worked with were and how it was their reliability that made it a positive experience for all parties involved. 

      The fact that MER was able to scale up quickly in the middle of a global pandemic speaks to the company’s dedication to performance.  This is a testament to MER’s ability to consistently perform at the highest level and hold themselves and subcontractors they work with to the highest standards.  MER’s contribution to the Golden Ray response demonstrates our dedication protecting the surrounding environment during and after the response is completed.  MER crews took on the responsibility of oil recovery, debris removal, management of disposal operations and SCAT teams all of which are focused on mitigating the threat to the surrounding environment, community and wildlife. 

facebooktwitterLinkedIn top Top > Comments   (0 comments)

Golden Ray Part 1: Gallagher's role

Tuesday, January 4, 2022  by qrelihan

               On September 8, 2019, the Golden Ray cargo ship capsized in St Simons Sound, near Georgia’s Port of Brunswick.  At the time of the incident, there were 24 crew members on board, along with over 4,000 cars.  The 656-foot ship capsized due to miscalculations regarding the vessel’s stability; therefore, when it turned, it was not stable enough to complete it without capsizing (St Simon Sound Response Page 2021).  All 24 crew members were rescued from the ship, and the cars are still being retrieved from the bottom of the sound via crane. The removal process of the Golden Ray was done by cutting it into eight sections which started in February 2020, and the final section was cut and removed this September 2021.  Therefore, the Golden Ray was deemed a complete loss, and the eight sections of Golden Ray were brought to a salvage yard in Louisiana.

               I had the opportunity to speak with Jason Maddox a Senior Response Manager for Gallagher Marine Systems (GMS), who is assigned as the Planning Section Chief for this response and was able to provide insight on what the process of responding to an emergency response looks like. Before any cuts were made to the vessel, MER under GMS direction, was brought on as a subcontractor to provide environmental support.  It was the responsibility of MER to contain and respond to an oil spill or other contaminants that could have ended up in the surrounding environment.  MER was there when the Golden Ray was considered an emergency in the beginning and stayed until the end when it transitioned to the project phase. MER was hired to support the effort and works with Gallagher Marine Systems, the Coast Guard, and the State of Georgia to safely remove and dispose of debris from the vessel, including parts of the vehicles that were on board at the time. 

              Accidents such as the Golden Ray capsizing in St Simons Sound with 24 crew members and 4,000 vehicles on board are impossible to predict.  However, just because you cannot predict when incidents like that will happen does not mean that a plan for response cannot be created.  Planning is arguably one of the most critical aspects of any emergency response.  Included in the planning process is the Vessel Response plan (VRP) required by the USCG. A VRP is an all-encompassing emergency response plan because it outlines which OSRO’s, salvage companies and QI’s or Spill Management teams (SMT) will be utilized should an emergency arise. Once a response is necessary and you have activated your Vessel Response plan, all other actions are developed by the SMT and are specific to the incident and area it happens.  When it comes to writing plans for an emergency response, such as the capsizing of the Golden Ray, the Incident Command System (ICS) Planning Section starts by taking the actions outlined in the VRP and then from there tailor the response to the situation. As the Planning Section Chief, Jason Maddox, along with his team of about 15 people, were the ones who wrote the plans for the Golden Ray response while taking into consideration input from Subject Matter Experts (SME’s), such as Salvage or Environmental technical specialists.

              When it comes to an incident like the Golden Ray, there were many plans written for all phases of response, including one for the demobilization of crews and equipment. All plans have to be reviewed by Jason Maddox before they can be passed to the Incident Commander, who then gives the final go-ahead.  For instance, there was a plan for how to cut the ship, the number of pieces and the order in which the pieces would be removed.  If the plan is rejected by Incident Command, then the Planning Section would go back to the drawing board, work with SME’s and other stakeholders and make the necessary adjustments to the plan.  Where one plan ends, the next one begins, so when a global pandemic happens, it can interrupt the progress of the response. However, in the case of the Golden Ray, it did not because the planning section was able to work within CDC guidelines to create a safe working environment, building health and safety procedures into the plan. 

              Since it is no longer in the emergency response phase and all that is left is debris, the Coast Guard has begun demobilizing from its role in the project.  The State of Georgia is committed to continued partnership with Gallagher until there is no longer evidence of debris washing up on its coastline. Therefore, companies like MER and Gallagher personnel must remain there until the debris is gone.  In fact, as of December 2021, Jason Maddox says he is still sending crews out every day to clean up debris that washes ashore from St Simons Sound.  The major operations of removing the vessel from the sound has been completed; the primary focus is debris and waste removal. 

             The Golden Ray response has transitioned to the project phase since the threat has decreased, and crews are working to clean up the sound and remove contaminants from the water. For instance, a few weeks ago, crews pulled 790 cars and 54 pieces of interior decking from St Simons Sound (First Coast News Staff 2021). There continues to be a barge, equipment, and a containment barrier at the site to provide continued environmental monitoring and clean up with the goal of ultimately leaving St. Simons Sound in its original state.

facebooktwitterLinkedIn top Top > Comments   (0 comments)

Sustainability Trends for 2022

Monday, January 3, 2022  by qrelihan

Sustainability Trends & Stories to Follow in 2022:

      In 2021, world leaders gathered in Glasgow, Scotland for COP 26 where a variety of environmental commitments were made.  These climate change commitments will affect governments, businesses, and individual lifestyles in the upcoming year.  Below is a list of sustainability trends, stories, and commitments to follow this year.

Increase in electric vehicle production

One of the biggest statements to come out of the COP 26 was that countries are only going to sell electric vehicles by 2040 or earlier.  This will not happen overnight, but you should be able to see manufacturers making progress to producing more electric vehicles. 

Net zero emission pledges are supported by data

Since many countries are committed to achieving net zero emissions within the next 20-30 years, the expectation is that companies will have to show that they too are making genuine efforts to become net zero.  

An end to deforestation

At the COP 26 conference the leaders of more than 100 countries agreed to end deforestation by 2030. This will be a harder commitment to check-in on but since it was made by more than 100 countries, there will be government regulators as well as advocacy groups monitoring this statement closely.

      Even though all the commitments listed above have deadlines 10-20 years in the future it is important to watch what actions are taken this year to help reach that goal in 10-20 years.  Buzzwords such as net zero emissions will become commonplace on news broadcasts and articles.  Be sure to keep in mind that having a plan to achieve the commitments are much more important than the commitment themselves.  As the year continues, the list of trends and stories will grow and change regarding priority but as of January 2022 these are the ones to watch.

facebooktwitterLinkedIn top Top > Comments   (0 comments)

Earth's Very Own Black Box

Monday, December 13, 2021  by qrelihan

   You’ve heard of a black box for airplanes, but what about one for the Earth’s climate? Well, there is a black box in Australia that will record the Earth’s climate for future generations to use and learn from (Rachel Ramirez, CNN 2021).  Just like how you learn about what went wrong with a plane when it crashes by finding its black box, the same will be the case for individuals decades from now when they are searching for answers about the current state of the planet.

    Specifically, the creators of “Earth’s Black Box” are hoping it will tell the story of climate change and whether it was adequately addressed.  Essentially it will act as a giant time capsule for Earth’s weather patterns and the actions that either improve or worsen the climate crisis.  To provide future generations with the necessary data to compare current climate patterns to those of the past the black box will record physical metrics such as temperature and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  In addition to collecting quantitative data, the black box will also be scanning the internet, news outlets and social media for climate change buzzwords to document when they are used, who they are used by and why. (Rachel Ramirez, CNN 2021).  This will reveal the severity of the problems and the scope of the potential solutions related to the climate crisis. 

    Obviously, there is no way of knowing what a black box of Earth’s climate from past civilizations would have told us about our future but moving forward I think it is a great way to hold ourselves accountable.  In a world where everything is documented, recorded and time-stamped, it will be nearly impossible to refute the data that this black box will collect.  By thinking of climate change as a plane crash on a global scale, the objective is that individuals will look for answers as to why this happened and how it can be avoided in the future. 

facebooktwitterLinkedIn top Top > Comments   (0 comments)

«  previous  |  1 2 4  |  next  »Displaying posts 11 – 15 of 20