The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) will receive $4 million for infrastructure improvements as part of the $162 million investment strategy announced today by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to protect Atlantic Coast communities from future, powerful storms.
The funds allocated to BSEE will provide for infrastructure resiliency improvements at the bureau’s national oil spill response research and renewable energy test facility, Ohmsett, that is located at Naval Weapons Station Earl in Leonardo, N.J. After Hurricane Sandy, BSEE quickly worked to complete a thorough damage assessment of the facility and complete necessary repairs in order to return Ohmsett to operational status. This project at Ohmsett will make improvements to the facility by providing additional protection against future storms and help to maintain the resiliency of the surrounding land. The Ohmsett facility includes the nation’s largest saltwater tank used for testing oil removal technologies, providing unique research and applied training capabilities.
“Hurricane Sandy had a direct impact on Ohmsett, damaging the facility and delaying important oil spill response research and testing,” said BSEE Director Brian Salerno. “This additional funding will allow us to complete further enhancements at Ohmsett, providing for storm resistant design improvements to protect both this unique facility and the surrounding lands while ensuring that there is minimal impact to the vital work that is accomplished each day at Ohmsett.”
The funding announced today will go towards mitigation measures to prevent or reduce wind and water impacts from future storms. The funding will cover important improvements such as elevating electrical and other equipment above potential storm surge levels, installing shutters to prevent building and tank damage, and installing barriers to prevent debris impacts to facility piping and other exposed infrastructure subject to damage from a severe storm event.
BSEE is the principal federal agency funding offshore oil spill response research, and Ohmsett is a key part of the bureau’s Oil Spill Response Research Program. Many of today’s commercially available oil spill cleanup products have been tested at Ohmsett and a considerable body of performance data and information on mechanical response equipment has been obtained there. This information is used by response planners in reviewing and approving facility response and contingency plans.
Ohmsett is also the premier training site for oil spill response personnel. Government agencies including the U.S. Coast Guard and the Navy as well as private industry and oil spill response organizations from around the world train their emergency response personnel with real oil and their own equipment. Some of the recent testing activities have included a month long series of tests examining oil recovery in ice conditions, subsea dispersent research, skimmer testing, and other oil spill response and coordination training. More than twenty-four countries have conducted tests or training at the Ohmsett facility.
Press Release, October 25, 2013