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Crowley receives 2005 Legacy Award from Pacific States/British Columbia Oil Spill Task Force for Oil Spill Prevention, Preparedness, and Response

The Pacific States/British Columbia Oil Spill Task Force will give its 2005 Legacy Awards for Oil Spill Prevention, Preparedness, and Response at its Annual Meeting in Anchorage, Alaska on July 27th. This year’s Legacy Award winners are:

Legacy Awards are given to industry, non-profit, or public agency organizations and individuals, or for team efforts. The Task Force gives Legacy Awards for projects, accomplishments, or leadership that demonstrates innovation, management commitment, and improvements in oil spill prevention, preparedness, or response resulting in enhanced environmental protection. Efforts to promote partnerships and involve the public are favored. Organizations, individuals, or projects nominated for the Legacy Award must be located in or operating in the Task Force jurisdictions of Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, and Hawaii. Organizations or individuals representing a regulated industry must demonstrate a satisfactory history of compliance with state, provincial, and federal oil spill regulations. Jean Cameron, Executive Coordinator for the Pacific States/British Columbia Oil Spill Task Force, characterizes the 2005 Legacy Award winners as “clearly deserving of recognition for their investments, commitment, and innovation. “ More details on the 2005 Legacy Award winners follow:

Crowley’s Marine Transport Lines subsidiary will receive a 2005 Legacy Award in recognition of their outstanding commitment to safety and spill prevention. Crowley is the largest independent operator of petroleum barges and tankers in the United States. Crowley designed, built and, operates an Articulated Tug and Barge (ATB) fleet consisting of four Reliance Class vessels, which have been in operation on the West Coast since 2002 and have delivered over 50,000,000 barrels of cargo with no spills.

The four new ATBs incorporate the latest advances in double hull design; redundant propulsion and engineering systems; inert gas systems; vapor recovery; enhanced cargo management systems; and reduced emission electronic diesel engines. The communication and navigation equipment is among the most technologically advanced in the industry today. These ATBs exceed environmental regulatory requirements by being the first class of barges built, documented and maintained to the requirements of the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) SafeHull as well as meeting all Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) international standards. The Crowley ATBs use an innovative Intercon notch connection that significantly improves upon the conventional tow wire system; it has been proven for full ocean service and allows the tug and barge to move locked together at speeds up to 12 knots and in a Beaufort 5 sea condition.

Crowley has created an Environmental, Safety and Quality Assurance Management System to ensure operating excellence. The Management System is an integration of the ISO 9001 quality assurance program; the International Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Control (ISM Code); the American Waterways Operators (AWO) Responsible Carrier Program (RCP) and the ISO 14001 environmental management system. These environmental, safety, and quality programs are combined into a single Operational Excellence Management System. All of these international management system certifications exceed regulatory requirements. As an example of their commitment to spill prevention, Crowley has installed remote shutdowns that allow terminal operators to secure onboard barge cargo pumps from a dockside location to stop cargo operations in the event of an emergency.

Crowley’s stated Safety Vision is “to be recognized as the global safety leader in the transportation industry.” Their ongoing Safety Leadership training includes management and maritime union leaders and all ATB officers and crews. Crowley’s safety and environmental performance goals include zero injuries; zero damages and zero environmental spills as well as performance objectives such as job safety analyses; near miss reporting; Why Tree incident investigations; safety assessments; and effective safety meetings. Crowley conducts ongoing employee training and education on Crowley’s safety culture and environmental protection programs, and their partnership with the maritime unions is working on including the Safety Leadership training in their union training schools.

In addition, crewing levels on their ATBs exceed USCG requirements, and Crowley also utilizes an employee reward system, and corporate management keeps an open channel for feedback from employees and their union. This adds up to a team effort focused on spill prevention and vessel safety. The net result of all these efforts is that Crowley has set the model for operation of ATBs on the West Coast.


BP Shipping, Inc. will receive a 2005 Legacy Award in recognition of their sustained superior performance in the prevention of petroleum spills along the West Coast. Realizing the importance of reducing exposure to coastal resources, BP Shipping has voluntarily directed its ship captains to maintain an 85 mile distance from shore to preclude shoreline impact if problems arose during transit. BP Shipping has extended that directive beyond the tankers involved in the TAPS trade to all the tankers owned, operated or chartered by BP Shipping.

BP Shipping is investing heavily in preventing spills from tankers supplying crude oil to west coast ports. In September of 2000, BP Shipping contracted with the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company for a new fleet of state-of-the-art oil tankers. BP Shipping has invested almost one billion dollars to build four tankers with double hulls and redundant propulsion and steering systems. The ships incorporate the latest proven technology in ship navigation, cargo handling, machinery control systems and pollution prevention. The ships have oil pipe work normally seen on a tanker deck, located within the ships hull and employ water lubricated stern bearings that prevent the loss of oil through the propeller shaft seals. These ships are represented as the most advanced tanker designed in the world. The first of these tankers, the Alaskan Frontier began west coast service in August of 2004 and the second ship entered service in March 2005 with the third scheduled for delivery later in 2005 and the fourth ship in 2006. BP Shipping additionally trades and operates a number of international flag ships to the US West Coast. These ships are part of the youngest fleet amongst the oil majors and are managed to the highest operational and integrity standards.

BP Shipping’s corporate culture is committed to spill prevention and environmental protection, including reduction of air emissions in ports. BP applied for membership to the California Oil Spill Technical Advisory Committee, and Governor Davis subsequently made an appointment in 2001 for BP to represent the interests of the oil industry, and provide a conduit for industry/government relations in oil spill prevention.


U.S. Coast Guard Commander (Retired) William Whitson will receive a 2005 Legacy Award in recognition of his outstanding work ethic and history of valuable initiatives. For instance, as the alternate Coast Guard co-chair of the Canadian/US Joint Response Team, he was responsible for continuing efforts to improve response actions and preparedness for international boundary waters in northern Puget Sound region. CDR Whitson led the completion of numerous equipment deployment exercises and joint response actions to facilitate integrating US and Canadian response forces, and he introduced the Incident Command System process into the Canadian response vernacular to enhance seamless command and control and integration of collective efforts.

He also made significant improvements in the use of the Incident Command System, making the Northwest a leader in the transition to NIIMS (now NIMS) well ahead of other areas in the country. This included the formation of a district Incident Management Assist Team (first IMAT in PACAREA) to assist and ensure the success of Coast Guard Incident Commanders. This model has been successfully implemented on several occasions including the response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, numerous oil spill responses, and the SONS 2004 exercise as the most notable.

Following the difficulty encountered by responders in removing heavy fuel from the New Carissa when she grounded on the Oregon Coast, CDR Whitson initiated the Viscous Oil Pumping Workshop which helped find a solution to removing cold, viscous oil during salvage operations.

Participants in this internationally-attended event developed a solution to the vexing problem of pumping cold, highly viscous liquids during salvage operations, which was the use of a water flange. The water flange is used worldwide today in most new build heavy viscous oil pumps.

CDR Whitson also organized and moderated the Salvage Conference in 2002 which initiated an ongoing and productive dialogue between the salvage industry, spill responders, and state/federal regulators.

In addition, CDR Whitson championed the development of a collaborative Logistics Workshop and exercise with oil transportation and spill response industry leaders, tribal councils and local government executives designed to address the many obstacles associated with responding to spills along the mostly inaccessible coastlines along the Northwest coast of Washington (which encompasses the Olympic Coast Marine Sanctuary).

CDR Whitson also demonstrated a strong commitment to partnering with states over the last 12 years. His previous active duty division officer, CAPT Chip Boothe, who made this nomination, notes that CDR Whitson “was instrumental in re-energizing a collaborative effort to protect…. Washington waters” after the USCG v. Locke decision. CDR Whitson worked to refine the Memorandum of Understanding now in place between the US Coast Guard 13th District and the State of Washington.


US Coast Guard District 11 will receive a 2005 Legacy Award for their role in developing the ”Probe for Oil Pollution Evidence in the Environment” (POPEIE). This pioneering law enforcement tool integrates a unique combination of technologies to identify and prosecute violators of international laws prohibiting the illegal discharge of oil at sea, and represents a new capability for the United States Coast Guard (USCG).

This device was initially developed by LT Richard Sanders while he was at District 11. Following his transfer, LTJG Blanca Leiva oversaw the project through the testing phases and the USCG approval processes. InterOcean Systems, Inc. developed and delivered POPEIE under contract with the USCG District 11 Marine Safety Division (D11m), with additional funding provided by the USCG Research and Development Center’s Law Enforcement Advancement Program (LEAP+), and the USCG Innovation Council.

The POPEIE buoy is an air-deployable, oil spill-sampling device that can easily and reliably be used to collect a forensically defensible spill sample. Physical samples are difficult to obtain from a boat because of challenges in relocating a spill, and are nearly impossible to obtain from attendant aircraft using available techniques.

Patrolling aircraft will carry POPEIE buoys on board for immediate deployment into the spill when an oil slick is sighted. Once deployed into the oil slick, POPEIE passively and automatically collects an uncontaminated sample of oil. POPEIE then broadcasts its location through a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver via the ARGOS satellite network. Using this GPS position, a surface craft or helicopter then collects the POPEIE containing the sample. POPEIE may be reacquired up to two weeks after deployment, as warranted by location and conditions. Once collected, the oil sample is forwarded to the USCG Marine Safety Laboratory (MSL), using standard chain of custody procedures.

Concurrently, suspect vessels known to have been in the vicinity, or observed near the slick, are boarded at the earliest opportunity to obtain samples for comparison purposes and these samples are then also forwarded to the USCG MSL. By matching characteristic “fingerprints” of these samples using Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometry analysis, indisputable physical evidence is obtained.

POPEIE has been certified for deployment from a C-130 and is in the process of being certified for deployment from a helicopter. Its ability to retrieve a sample of oil was successfully tested at the Minerals Management Service OHMSETT test facility in New Jersey. Once approval is given for deployment from a helicopter, US Coast Guard District 11 plans to test it on the Santa Barbara oil seeps.


Cholly Mercer, President, Rainier Petroleum Corporation will receive a 2005 Legacy Award in recognition of an outstanding commitment to spill prevention and preparedness. Cholly Mercer is the President of the Rainier Petroleum Corporation based in Seattle, Washington, and a Board Member of Rainier’s parent company Pecos Incorporated. Pecos, Chaired by Mr. John Zar is headquartered in Los Angeles, California and is the largest supplier of marine gas oil and marine lubricants on the U.S. West Coast and Panama. Cholly is a tireless educator of industry, citizens and the legislature on the benefits of investing in spill prevention, preparedness and response.

Rainier Petroleum is an independent marine fuel and lubricant terminal operator with fixed facilities in two locations, a specialty fleet of tank trucks making deliveries to deep draft vessels, and two tank vessels that transport product over the waters of Puget Sound. Rainier’s customers include the ferry systems for Washington and Alaska, tug companies, tanker and container operators, fishing vessels, Department of Defense and US Coast Guard vessels, and other types of marine craft. The realm of regulations that cover each of these operations is enormous. On a daily basis, Rainier safely completes numerous over-water oil transfers using procedures that exceed minimum regulatory requirements. As members of the American Waterways Operators (AWO), both Pecos and Rainier participate in AWO’s Responsible Carrier Program.

Under Cholly’s leadership, Rainier Petroleum has chosen to voluntarily pre-boom oil transfers when it is safe and effective to do so. The monetary costs associated with this choice are not small. For Rainier, putting boom in the water safely is a three person operation, with one on the dock and two in a boat in the water. Rainier makes this voluntary investment because they know that immediate containment of potential spills is an optimal response tactic.

During vessel transfers, Rainier employs a number of procedures that exceed requirements. An employee is stationed at the valve during the entire process to react immediately if necessary. The Rainier facilities maintain detailed fuel transfer logs. Operators are knowledgeable on flow rates and tank capacities for the vessels they fuel. Rainier employees maintain awareness of vessels with a history of spills, and initiate increased precautions when fueling these vessels.

The Company is ready to respond promptly at each transfer location, no matter how remote. Their tank trucks have been upgraded to carry spill response gear on-board to quickly mitigate spills should they happen. Rainier provides training for their tank truck drivers beyond what’s required, including twenty-four hour HAZWOPPER training to enable drivers to respond to spills. They also train their drivers to the state of Washington’s Facility Personnel Oil Handling Training and Certification Program, and incorporate elements of the Canadian Coast Guard’s “Tank Truck to Marine Vessel Oil Transfer Procedures.” Rainer also goes beyond requirements by having an oil spill response organization on retainer during all transfers over water.

Rainier goes beyond US federal insurance requirements of $1 million and carries $5 million coverage which includes pollution response for loading/unloading events.
Rainier has designed and built an innovative truck fleet which carry both bulk and packaged products, thus reducing the number of delivery runs by nearly half and saving on both fuel and air pollution impacts.

Mr. Mercer subscribes to a training and safety program that far exceeds the minimum levels, in terms of hours, content and frequency. He values his employees and keeps safety as a number one objective.

Cholly Mercer shows up when it counts at regulatory or legislative processes, and has been successful at ensuring that laws, rules and local ordinances are enacted which improve spill prevention, preparedness and response. The employees at Rainier are a strong team and key to the success of this company at preventing and minimizing spill consequences. The oil market is highly competitive, especially for an independent company. It would be easy for Rainier to merely do the minimum and put profit first, but they don’t. Cholly sets this culture not only because he knows it is the right thing to do for the environment, but because he believes that it makes economic sense as well.


The Pacific States/British Columbia Oil Spill Task Force provides a forum for coordination and collaboration on oil spill prevention and response policies that protect over 56, 660 miles of coastline from the Beaufort Sea to the Baja Peninsula and the island chain of Hawaii. The theme for our 2005 Annual Meeting – Pacific Perspectives – Regional Issues of Concern – will focus on successful spill prevention, preparedness, and response models as well as spill response issues associated with non-tank vessels which carry large amounts of oil product as fuel.

Task Force Members are the directors of the oil spill prevention and response agencies in Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska.