Minutes of the

Upper Mississippi River

Hazardous Spills Coordination Group Meeting

 

October 24-25, 2001

 

Radisson Quad City Plaza Hotel

Davenport, Iowa

 

 

John Grump of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources called the meeting to order at 1:36 p.m. on October 24, 2001.  The following Spills Group members and observers were present:

 

 

Jim O’Brien

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency

 

Dave Perry

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

 

John Grump

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

 

Susan Hampton

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mississippi Valley Division

 

Theresa Kauzlarich

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District

 

David Pertuz

U.S. Coast Guard, Eighth District

 

David Webb

U.S. Coast Guard, Quad Cities MSD

 

Ann Whelan

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5

 

Barbi Lee

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5

 

Scott Hayes

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 7

 

Mike Coffey

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

 

Gary Haden

McKinzie Environmental

 

Barb Naramore

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

 

Present October 24 only:

 

Rich Gullick

American Water Works Service Company

 

Alan Borden

Burlington Municipal Waterworks

 

Howard Ross

City of East Moline Water

 

Greg Swanson

City of Moline

 

John Kitson

City of Moline Water

 

David Suman

City of Rock Island Water

 

Larry Dinwiddie

Fort Madison Water Department

 

Brent Gregory

Illinois-American Water Company

 

Joel Mohr

Iowa-American Water Company

 

Judy Starcevich

Iowa-American Water Company

 

Roy Ney

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

 

Larry Cole

Minneapolis Water Works

 

Kathy Svanda

Minnesota Department of Health

 

Gary Englund

Minnesota Department of Health

 

Bruce Olsen

Minnesota Department of Health

 

Peter Tennant

Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission

 

Dave Schuler

St. Paul Regional Water Services

 

Minutes of the May Meeting

 

The minutes of the May 8, 2001 meeting were approved as written.  Dave Perry noted the May minutes referenced Davenport’s wastewater treatment problems during the spring flooding.  Perry reported that the city recently approved a 20-year plan to address sanitary and combined sewer overflows.  Because the state issues 5-year NPDES permits, the 20-year plan will not be fully reflected in the city’s next discharge permit.

 

OSC/Corps Coordination Protocol

 

Susan Hampton provided an update regarding the proposed OSC/Corps coordination protocol.  MVD’s council has reviewed draft language and recommended some changes.  However, MVD does not want to preempt the District Engineers’ authority regarding coordination issues.  Therefore, MVD will ask each District Engineer to issue a policy letter governing coordination on their portion of the UMR.  MVD will then transmit the districts’ policies to the Spills Group with a cover letter integrating the three letters and addressing any consistency issues.  In response to a question from Barb Naramore, Hampton said she had already contacted staff in each district and would coordinate efforts.  Hampton said the Spills Group need not communicate directly with the districts regarding the coordination protocols.  She expressed optimism that work on the protocols could be completed in the relatively near future.  Naramore said that the protocols will be integrated into the Spills Plan upon completion.  John Grump thanked Hampton for her effort on the protocols.

 

Freshwater Spills Symposium

 

Ann Whelan reported that the 2002 Freshwater Spills Symposium will be held March 19-21 in Cleveland.  Organizers have already issued a call for papers and will also be inviting some speakers.  Whelan said she anticipates that there will be a proceedings document.  In response to a question from Dave Pertuz, Whelan said she would be happy to receive any speaker recommendations.  She noted that Kurt Hansen and some commercial venders are scheduled to present information regarding the May 2001 equipment deployment near Alton.

 

Early Warning Monitoring Network

 

Jim O’Brien observed that the contaminants of primary concern to UMR water suppliers are petroleum products, bacteria, ammonia, nitrate, and herbicides.  Given this, gas chromatographs may not be necessary.  O’Brien recommended reviewing currently available equipment to identify what is effective and what would address the contaminants of concern.  He advocated the use of automated equipment. 

 

John Grump noted that, at the last Spills Group meeting, the states agreed to survey their industrial and power plant intake operators.  Subsequent to the May 2001 meeting, Barb Naramore provided state members with a survey template.  O’Brien reported receiving two survey responses.  Dave Perry said he had received five responses.  It was agreed that the state members would follow-up once with facilities that have not responded to the survey, but would not pursue responses beyond that.  The states will then forward responses received to Naramore.

 

[Note:  At this point, members of the Upper Mississippi River Water Suppliers Coalition joined the Spills Group for a joint discussion.]

 

Rich Gullick reported that drinking water suppliers on the Upper Mississippi have formed a UMR Water Suppliers Coalition.  Approximately half of the 22 UMR water utilities was represented at the group’s first meeting, which immediately preceded the Spills Group meeting.  According to Gullick, the group has decided to confine its membership to drinking water suppliers for the present.  State and federal regulators will be welcome to participate as observers in the group.  Power plant and industrial water users may be invited to join at a later date.  The coalition plans to meet twice per year, in the spring and fall.

 

The drinking water suppliers formally adopted the following mission statement and goals for their coalition: 

 

Mission statement:  To advance the common interests of the drinking water suppliers utilizing the Upper Mississippi River.

 

Goals:

·      Serve as a focal point to represent the common interests of the water utilities on the river.

·      Establish a formal communication network for the membership.

·      Serve as a resource clearinghouse for river water quality and related information.

·      Work toward development and maintenance of an early warning/source water monitoring network.

·      Promote source water protection practices and provide educational opportunities for the membership and their consumers, including lobbying regulatory agencies and legislative bodies to protect the source water and otherwise assist the utilities in their goals.

·      Develop working relationships with other river stakeholders and participate in river water quality initiatives.

 

Gullick outlined various approaches that might be used to coordinate a UMR monitoring network.  Those options included 1) asking the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) to extend its work with the Ohio River network to the Upper Mississippi, 2) establishing an ad-hoc system of some kind, 3) having USGS’s Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center oversee the network, and 4) linking to the Upper Mississippi River Basin sediment and nutrient initiative that Representative Kind (D-WI) is pursuing.  Barb Naramore cautioned that Representative Kind’s legislation is focused on a very different type of monitoring and has many hurdles yet to clear before it is enacted and funded.  Naramore observed that various hybrid options could be created from among the four alternatives Gullick outlined.  Gullick said the water users are reluctant to pursue an ad-hoc approach because they do not believe it will be as reliable.  Naramore emphasized that a hybrid approach, building on the strengths and capabilities of existing institutions in the region, need not be ad-hoc in the sense of being informal or unreliable.

 

Brent Gregory stressed the water suppliers’ need for timely information about spills.  He noted that Illinois-American operates plants on both the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.  The Ohio River plant receives high quality and timely information from ORSANCO.  Gregory said this experience leads him to favor a similar model for the Mississippi River.  Joel Mohr said UMR suppliers feel strongly that a formal organization is needed to coordinate monitoring and communication.  Mohr noted that there have been some notification failures on the river.  Gregory observed that suppliers typically receive timely notification of spills, but little of the additional information needed to help them determine the significance of the spill for their operations.  Bruce Olsen explained that the Minnesota Department of Health administers the state’s safe drinking water program, but he emphasized that many other entities share responsibility for source water protection.  Olsen said the potential to coordinate monitoring efforts is quite attractive, stressing the need for collaboration.

 

John Grump reported that the UMR Spills Group is in the midst of updating the Upper Mississippi River Hazardous Spill Response Plan and Resource Manual.  He noted that the resource manual includes potentially sensitive information, such as the river mile locations of drinking water intakes.  Grump asked representatives of the drinking water suppliers for their perspectives on whether access to such data should be limited.  Mohr and Gregory both urged restricting access to spill contingency planners and responders.  Susan Hampton reported that Attorney General Ashcroft recently issued a memo authorizing federal agencies to deny Freedom of Information Act requests for such information.

 

Dave Pertuz asked the water suppliers how they typically receive spill notifications.  Representatives from several intakes indicated that they are most often notified by their state.  Jim O’Brien observed that responsible parties do not always notify the state.  In such instances, the states themselves rely on fax notification from the National Response Center (NRC).  O’Brien said this fax notification system is not foolproof.  Rich Gullick concurred, citing an August oil spill in which Iowa was not notified and thus did not notify potentially affected intake operators.  O’Brien suggested that the NRC might be willing to send fax notifications directly to utilities.  Gullick said one of the values of the Ohio River system is that ORSANCO receives the NRC notifications and disseminates them as necessary to utilities.  Dave Pertuz offered to ask a NRC representative to attend the Spills Group’s next meeting to discuss notification.

 

In response to a question from Barb Naramore, Mohr suggested that the coordinating entity for a UMR network would perform the following functions:

 

·      timely notification,

·      dissemination of response information,

·      follow-up coordination between intakes and responders, and

·      data collection and storage.

 

Gullick also highlighted the need for spill characterization and modeling.  Larry Dinwiddie said what utilities most need is more information.  According to Dinwiddie, intake operators are typically aware when there has been a spill, but do not have critical information such as the quantity spilled and estimated travel time.  Gullick said the utilities are not seeking to have someone tell them when to shut their intakes, but they do need someone to provide them with the information on which they can base such decisions themselves.  O’Brien cautioned that responders often do not know all the relevant facts at the time they must make decisions and recommendations.

 

Gullick said the coordinating entity could also serve as a general point of contact for agencies and others seeking to address water utilities on a range of issues.  In addition, the coordinator could serve as an advocate on behalf of the utilities and perform stakeholder outreach.  Naramore noted that an advocacy role would limit the range of candidates able to serve as network coordinator.  As an example, she noted that neither USGS nor the UMRBA could serve as an advocate for a coalition of municipal and private sector utilities.  Gullick said the Users Coalition has identified the advocacy role as a possibility, but not as essential.

 

Ann Whelan suggested that the coordinating entity might also be responsible for identifying trends and conducting other data analysis.  In addition, Whelan noted that the same entity could coordinate source water protection planning.  Joel Mohr said Iowa-American has not pursued source water protection planning on the UMR due to the size of the watershed.

 

O’Brien said that some of the coordination tasks clearly need to be centralized while other functions could be rotated.  Gullick emphasized the need to a single entity to have primary responsibility for the network.  He reminded the group that one option would be to ask ORSANCO to perform these functions on the UMR.  In response to a question from Grump, Gullick said he had not formally approached ORSANCO regarding this possibility.  While ORSANCO staff have indicated a willingness to consult regarding the UMR effort, Gullick said he was not sure that the organization would be comfortable extending its network to the Upper Mississippi, even if funding issues were resolved.  Whelan cautioned that such an approach might be awkward both technically and politically.  She observed that the UMR has its own organizations and structures that should be explored first.  Gullick said his review suggests there is no agency or organization capable of functioning on the UMR like ORSANCO does on the Ohio River.

 

Naramore reported that she has discussed the monitoring network proposal with the UMRBA’s Representatives and Federal Liaison Members.  While supportive of the concept, these senior state and federal agency representatives made it clear that they have no appetite for establishing new structures or bureaucracies.  Instead, they urged that advocates explore ways of building upon existing capabilities.  Naramore said that, while ORSANCO’s approach has served the Ohio River quite well, it is not necessarily the only model for a successful monitoring network.  She recommended the Spills Group and the Water Suppliers Coalition be creative in considering ways to build on existing institutions to establish a sound network. 

 

Gullick said the Water Suppliers Coalition will require a small amount of money to fund its own coordination work.  Far larger sums are needed to establish and maintain a monitoring network.  Gullick said he anticipates that utilities will contribute in-kind services to do the actual monitoring, but funding from other sources will be needed for equipment and network coordination.  O’Brien cautioned that the state revenue picture is quite bleak.  He stressed the importance of identifying the priority needs of UMR intakes and designing the system accordingly.  O’Brien said states may be better able to make in-kind rather than cash contributions to the network.  In either case, the states will need a detailed scope and list of tasks before making such decisions.  Gullick said information from his survey of intake operators will be helpful in scoping the proposal.  O’Brien observed that funding opportunities can arise on short notice, such as settlements from enforcement actions.  In order to respond to such opportunities in a timely way, it is essential to have a sound project proposal ready to go.

 

Theresa Kauzlarich reported that the Rock Island District is currently working on a time-of-travel model.  Naramore noted that the St. Paul District developed the Riverine Emergency Management Model (REMM) as part of its Section 22 planning work with Minneapolis and the River Defense Network.  Larry Cole said Minneapolis Water Works has found REMM to be quite helpful.  Mohr said a time-of-travel model for his portion of the river would be very useful, particularly if it was available on the web.  Kauzlarich said web access could present security concerns.  Gregory suggested that the Corps consider adopting Walter Grayman’s Ohio River model for use on the UMR.

 

After some further discussion, the Spills Group and the Water Suppliers Coalition outlined the following next steps:

 

1)    complete vulnerability analysis,

2)    complete review of currently available data,

3)    determine what additional data are needed to optimize system benefits,

4)    develop a preliminary system design in coordination with the full range of interested parties and potential participants,

5)    seek support from potential participating agencies, and

6)    identify an organization(s) to coordinate the network system.

 

Gullick said he would not reject an ad-hoc approach to scoping the early warning monitoring network, but stressed his belief that only a central entity can successfully implement and maintain such a network.  O’Brien asked each utility to confirm its 24-hour contact number.  Gullick observed that the UMR Water Suppliers Coalition needs some general support, including assistance establishing a web presence.  He asked whether the UMRBA might be able to provide such assistance.  Naramore said that she would raise the question with the UMRBA Representatives, but cautioned that there would be several obstacles, including the Association’s limited staff, even more limited expertise in the area of web design, and questions concerning the appropriateness of providing such support to an advocacy group whose members are regulated by the Association’s member states.

 

[Note:  At this point, there was a brief break while members of the Upper Mississippi River Water Suppliers Coalition departed from the Spills Group meeting.]

 

UMR Spill Plan

 

Barb Naramore reported that Stan Smith was the only Spills Group member to respond to her request for final updates to the UMR Spill Plan.  Smith provided several changes to the list of Fish and Wildlife Service field contacts.  After further discussion, it was agreed that Spills Group members would have until November 9 to complete their review of the plan and submit any updates to Naramore.

 

Naramore noted that the Spills Group had previously decided to post the updated Spill Plan on the web, using the UMRBA’s web site.  Given the terrorist attacks of September 11, Naramore suggested that group review the plan’s content and consider what is appropriate for broad public dissemination.  She observed that various state and federal agencies are in the process of similar reviews and are developing general guidelines governing the release of potentially sensitive information. 

 

Ann Whelan suggested the possibility of passwording access to the plan.  O’Brien said the plan’s most sensitive information is the river mile locations given for various facilities.  He noted that local responders are likely to be one of the key users of the web-based plan and expressed concern over limiting their access to the document. 

 

After some further discussion, the group’s consensus was to post only the text portion of the plan, deleting the resource appendices, with their potentially sensitive information, from the web version.  The on-line posting will include a caveat explaining what has been deleted, as well as the full table of contents.  Each of the Spills Group’s member agencies will remain responsible for ensuring that the full plan is distributed as appropriate to responders within their state or federal agency.  In addition, the UMRBA will continue to respond to requests from intake operators, potential spill sources, contingency planning contractors, and others with a legitimate need for the resource appendix information.  In response to such requests, the Association may provide either excerpts or the entire plan, depending on the extent of the party’s information needs.  To facilitate distribution, Naramore will provide the lead representative from each of the Spills Group’s member agencies with a hardcopy of the plan along with PDF and Word files.

 

Naramore reported that Terry Moe, supervisor of Wisconsin DNR’s Western Rivers Office, has suggested the Spills Group consider sending annual reminders to plan holders.  Moe believes such reminders would help maintain people’s awareness of the plan, particularly as staff turns over.  O’Brien said he thought such an approach would be overly bureaucratic.  John Grump said other techniques are more effective, noting that he meets with new conservation wardens as they assume duty along the river.  Dave Perry agreed that annual reminders would be overly formal.  The group’s consensus was that each member agency will continue to conduct outreach and education regarding the plan as it sees fit.  No overall strategy for reminders was adopted.

 

Naramore reported that she has not received sufficient National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) information from the states.  As a result, the list of dischargers in the Spill Plan will not be updated as part of the pending revisions.  Naramore said she will follow up later with the states to obtain the necessary data and revise the discharger list.  Once that list is updated, Naramore said she will be able to develop the integrated list of features by river mile that O’Brien had suggested previously.  This will be a streamlined list of key features such as intakes, pipeline crossings, fixed facilities, dischargers, etc. arranged by river mile.  Plan users will still need to refer to other appendices for more complete information about each feature.  The updated discharger list and the integrated key features list will be included in a future update to the Spill Plan.

 

The meeting adjourned for the day at 5:10 p.m. and reconvened at 8:05 a.m. on October 25, 2001.

 

May 2001 Equipment Deployment

 

Dave Pertuz reported on the May 9, 2001 equipment deployment sponsored by the Coast Guard.  The demonstration included deployment of boom vane, boom deflectors, and the vessel of opportunity skimming system (VOSS).  An Illinois DNR spud barge was used as the platform for the full scale VOSS deployment, which was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of the VOSS on a non-traditional platform in a river environment.  The VOSS was deployed to one side of the vessel and rice hulls were used to simulate spilled oil on the Illinois River just downstream of the Brussels Ferry Landing. 

 

Pertuz reported that the VOSS proved effective at recovering the rice hulls and the work barge was a viable platform, though special deck fittings first had to be installed.  However, the current was slow; thus the results cannot necessarily be extrapolated to more typical fast water conditions.  In addition, the vessel did not maneuver much during the test; thus the demonstration did not test the VOSS’s capacity for chasing oil on a river.  Pertuz said the Coast Guard would like to test the VOSS again next year under higher current conditions.  However, due to the Coast Guard’s heightened security posture, there is presently a hold on VOSS deployments.  Pertuz said this restriction may be lifted.  He will keep the Spills Group informed.

 

Pertuz also described the boom demonstrations.  For purposes of comparison, 500 feet traditional anchored boom was deployed.  The boom was deployed on the Illinois River with slow current (< 1 knot).  High water conditions made it difficult to find a suitable staging site.  Pertuz estimated that it took three people 45 minutes to load the boom on their boat and 20 minutes to deploy the boom.  He noted that the total time can be reduced if the boom is loaded on the boat before transit.

 

The boom deflectors were deployed on the Mississippi River near Alton.  The current was strong (3 - 4 knots).  The crew installed the deflectors on 1,000 feet of boom while on the water.  While not ideal, Pertuz explained that the rocky shore precluded installing the deflectors on land.  Launching the boat and transiting to the site took 20 minutes, while installing the deflectors and deploying the boom required 40 minutes.  Pertuz said it was difficult to detect the boom diversion because the angle was very subtle.  There were problems with the anchor dragging, suggesting that additional anchors may be required in fast water.  Pertuz said the boom deflectors can be used to divert oil or to collect oil if natural collection points are available.

 

The boom vane deployment was done under the river same conditions as the boom deflectors.  Five hundred feet of boom were deployed from shore two times.  The first time, the mooring line broke.  The second time, the anchor failed.  Pertuz said improved anchoring is clearly needed.  He also emphasized that dynamic force calculations must be taken into account when selecting the mooring technique.  However, he observed that the boom vane shows promise and merits further exploration.  Set-up required approximately 30 minutes, while deployment took about 10 minutes.  Pertuz said the overall experience with the deployment points to the value of redundant equipment when responding to spills in fast water.  He cautioned against relying exclusively on boom deflectors or boom vane.  Jim O’Brien noted that, in an actual spill, responders probably would have called for a dump truck loaded with rock to anchor the boom vane.  Pertuz said Kurt Hansen and Leo Deon have prepared an excellent report summarizing findings from the deployment.  He offered to provide a copy to anyone who has not seen the report.

 

Pertuz said the U.S. and Mexico have a joint Gulf Coast deployment scheduled for
May 27 - June 1.  However, increased security missions may preclude the Coast Guard’s involvement.  He noted that the Mexican navy has a one-of-a-kind skimming ship that is slated to participate.  In addition, tentative plans call for the Coast Guard to deploy the Corpus Christi-based VOSS in Mexican waters.  Pertuz offered to keep the group informed.

 

In response to a question from Susan Hampton, Pertuz explained that the VOSS’s lance barge is not suitable for collecting product in a riverine environment because of the risk of puncture.  Pertuz said other options include using a natural collection point if available or placing collection trucks on barges.  He noted that trucks on barges have limited capacity.  Pertuz speculated that, in the event of an actual spill, the VOSS would probably be anchored and used to capture product as the plume moves downstream rather than moving the VOSS platform, as was done in the demonstration. 

 

Despite such issues and limitations, Pertuz said it is clear that the VOSS has potential utility on the inland river system.  He said this potential is more than adequate to justify keeping the equipment based on the inland system.  Pertuz reported that a local economic development authority took possession of the former Granite City military base effective October 1.  The group is allowing the Coast Guard to keep the VOSS at the facility rent-free, aside from utilities, for one year.  Pertuz said the Coast Guard will use that time to negotiate a possible lease to keep the VOSS at Granite City, but will also explore other options.  He said he will let the Spills Group know by spring 2002 if the Coast Guard needs assistance identifying alternative sites.  Hampton and O’Brien expressed confidence that other agencies in the area should be able to provide storage at little or no cost to the Coast Guard.  O’Brien advocated keeping the VOSS in the same general location, noting that it is near a proven vessel of opportunity.  Pertuz said the National Strike Force inspects and maintains the VOSS periodically and will need access to the storage site for this purpose.

 

Scott Hayes said that the May demonstration leads him to believe responders on the inland rivers may use the VOSS skimmer with boom, but are less likely to attempt to use the system from a vessel.  O’Brien said that, due to access limitations, responders may need to use a vessel even if they anchor the vessel for collection.  Pertuz reminded the group that the VOSS can only be deployed by Strike Team personnel.  Thus, deployment may take as much as 48 hours.  However, advance planning could reduce this time.  For example, an MOU governing transportation of the equipment could allow the VOSS and the Strike Team to travel to the spill simultaneously.  Pertuz said he would explore this possibility with Leo Deon. 

 

Tri-State Hazmat Group

 

Dave Perry reported that the Tri-State Hazmat Group met on September 13.  The group is planning a barge training session for April 2002 that will include some hands-on work with boom.  Perry noted that responders often have communications problems along the river, due in part to the bluffs’ impacts on signals.  Next summer, Tri-State plans to test a communications strategy involving a ham radio operator network.  The test is scheduled for summer because peak vegetation creates the most signal interference.  

 

Perry also reported that Craig Strand, Minnesota’s Tri-State representative, had raised questions regarding whether the UMR Spills Plan adequately addresses the role of local responders.  In response, John Grump highlighted those portions of the plan that describe the local responders’ role and asked Tri-State members to identify any deficiencies.  Grump said Lois Ristow and Strand subsequently indicated that they are satisfied with the plan’s current contents.

 

Perry announced that Rick Bamsey of the Iowa Emergency Management has retired.  Bamsey had chaired Tri-State for the past year.  Ristow will likely resume the chair position. 

 

Gary Haden noted that the Federal Communications Commission has set aside 5 radio frequencies for emergency communications on oil and hazardous materials spills.  Local jurisdictions may apply for a license to operate on these frequencies.  Haden suggested that this option might be of interest to the Tri-State Group and offered to provide a contact if the group would like further information.  Grump observed that differences in equipment and frequencies are major impediments to communication among local jurisdictions.  In rural areas, local authorities typically have only very basic equipment.  Susan Hampton mentioned Nextel’s cell phone/radio combinations.  Haden observed that the combination units have the same shortcoming as cell phones — i.e., they must be within range of a cellular tower.  Jim O’Brien said that another significant limitation of cell phones is that communications are not secure.  He said Illinois may purchase some satellite phones.

 

Planning and Mapping Updates

 

Barbi Lee reported that the Greater St. Louis Sub-Area Committee has completed work on its plan.  In addition, inland sensitivity maps for the area are also complete.  Committee members made a series of outreach presentations regarding the plan and maps at LEPC meetings this spring.  In December, Koch will hold a tabletop exercise involving one of its pipelines in the sub-area.  Committee members are participating in that effort in various capacities.  Gary Haden noted that the group also continues to work on communications issues. 

 

Jim O’Brien said the federal government has a system for assigning telephone priority to emergency workers.  There is no cost for an agency to register with the Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS).  Once registered, the agency receives a PIN that assures priority access.  Ann Whelan reported that there is a similar system for cell phones, but that there is a registration fee.  O’Brien said he would provide the group with a URL for further information.  [Note:  For further information, visit the GETS site at http://gets.ncs.gov.]

 

Dave Perry said the Quad Cities Sub-Area Committee will be meeting this afternoon.  Scott Hayes reported that, due to flooding, the group did not conduct its protection strategies survey as scheduled last spring.  Hayes said he hopes to reschedule the river survey for this coming spring.

 

Barb Naramore reported that MPCA and UMRBA staff are working with various industries between St. Paul and Hastings on a plan to pre-stage equipment in key locations.  Participating industries will purchase the equipment for use by members of the Wakota CAER group.  Naramore said this effort is an outgrowth of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Sub-Area Committee’s protection strategies work and MPCA’s follow-up with industries to ensure that they are able to execute the strategies.

 

Ann Whelan reported that responders in the Peoria area have agreed to develop an oil annex to the county’s multi-hazards plan.  She noted that the Illinois River sensitivity maps have been completed and distributed.  In addition, maps in several other areas, including the Minnesota, Kaskaskia, and Red Rivers, are currently in draft form.  Whelan reported that on-line access to the PDF maps as well as potentially sensitive data and shape files is now passworded.  Password requests should be directed to Hank DeHaan at epa_coordinator@umesc.er.usgs.gov.

 

Regional Analyses

 

Ann Whelan briefly summarized an effort to analyze the data that have been gathered through the inland sensitivity mapping project.  Key data layers, including potential sources of risk and sensitive human and natural resources, are mapped at the regional and state scale.  This reveals areas with concentrations of risk and/or sensitivity.  Data are aggregated by county and can be normalized by area, shoreline, etc. to make concentrations more comparable across counties.  Whelan said EPA and USGS will be doing further analysis as the data are refined.

 

John Grump questioned the intake data shown on one of Whelan’s maps, noting that Wisconsin does not have any drinking water intakes on the Mississippi.  Barb Naramore suggested that UMESC staff may have inadvertently mapped all intakes, rather than only potable intakes.  Whelan said she would explore the issue.

 

Whelan said EPA staff has also reviewed Fish and Wildlife Service endangered species recovery plans throughout Region 5, identifying both known occurrences and targeted recovery areas.  She displayed maps developed based on the recovery plan data.  Mike Coffey cautioned that many of the recovery plans are quite out of date, thus resulting in potentially misleading maps.  For example, he said there are many threatened and endangered mussels on the UMR, very few of which are reflected on EPA’s maps.  Whelan acknowledged the limitations associated with the out-of-date recovery plans.  However, she maintained that the maps are still potentially useful.  For example, they may help guide settlement negotiations in enforcement actions, identifying areas where land acquisition could benefit target species.  She also suggested that the maps could be used to help focus spill prevention efforts. 

 

Susan Hampton asked whether EPA Region 7 is conducting similar analyses.  Scott Hayes said Region 7 is not as far along.  Hayes said his first priority is to develop sensitivity maps for the Missouri River, but he has not yet secured the necessary funding.

 

Phytoremediation

 

Ann Whelan reported that EPA is doing a large clean-up in northwest Indiana that involves a heavily oiled shoreline.  With partners including the Forest Service and Purdue University, EPA is exploring phytoremediation as part of the clean-up.  The effort involves a field test of poplar, willow, and other native vegetation, as well as lab tests at Purdue to determine whether the plants are actually uptaking oil or simply coexisting with it.  Whelan said EPA is eager to develop approaches that can be transferred to other sites with contaminated soils. 

 

John Grump noted that phytoremediation was used at a coal gas site in Wisconsin.  He said the approach seems to hold the most promise for sites such as shorelines where the water table is near the surface.  Grump questioned the applicability for sites with deeper ground water, where the contamination may be far below the root zone.  Whelan related an experiment where live poplars were drilled into the ground to get their roots to the appropriate depth.  Barb Naramore asked about issues associated with plant toxicity and potential wildlife impacts.  Whelan said Purdue is addressing such issues as part of its research.

 

Jim O’Brien referenced the American Petroleum Institute’s remediation guidelines for brine areas.  He noted that API has found brine to be more damaging than oil because it results in soil compaction.  One option suggested is to use salt tolerant plants to prevent erosion and maintain the soil structure.  Whelan and Grump both referenced additional phytoremediation work involving white fungus.

 

Agency Updates/Reports on Recent Incidents

 

Dave Perry said reports of hazardous conditions in Iowa’s 10 UMR counties have totaled 140 since January 1, 2001.  According to Perry, only a handful of these incidents involved significant quantities being released to water.  ADM spilled 10,000 gallons of an ethanol/fructose slurry through a permitted outfall, and the material reached the Mississippi River.  According to Perry, there were few response options.  On May 14, I&M Rail Link spilled 150 gallons of diesel, 5 gallons of which reached the Mississippi.  Perry said he does not know what notifications were made in either incident.

 

Jim O’Brien reported no recent incidents of significance on the Mississippi in Illinois.  He noted that the state has been extremely busy working with law enforcement on meth labs and coordinating counterterrorism efforts.  The state has three counterterrorism response teams whose members have hazmat training in addition to a range of law enforcement and scientific expertise.  Illinois is also reviewing the credentials of Level A and Level B hazmat teams in the state and is focused on upgrading existing capabilities.  O’Brien noted that Chicago area jurisdictions have a fairly sophisticated mutual aid system that the state is seeking to expand elsewhere in Illinois.  It addresses workers compensation protection and other complex legal issues.

 

John Grump said there have been a few reported sheens in the La Crosse area.  The quantities have not been significant, and the source may be a former storage facility.  Grump said methamphetamine labs continue to be a significant problem throughout Wisconsin.  Local and federal officials do most of the meth lab response, but state conservation wardens are often the first responders because many labs are in remote areas.  Grump said the state’s wardens are receiving special training concerning meth labs.  Grump also reported that Wisconsin will ask its response contractors to develop bioterrorism response capabilities as part of their next contracts.

 

Barb Naramore conveyed Steve Lee’s regrets that Minnesota was unable to be represented at the Spills Group meeting.  Naramore said MPCA hopes to fill its vacant Rochester-based response position soon.  That person will serve as Minnesota’s representative to the group.

 

Barbi Lee reported that Steve Faryan has been working on a site in Onalaska, Wisconsin.  The site is near the Mississippi and Black Rivers and involves lead and gasoline contamination.

 

Theresa Kauzlarich reported that Corps personnel overfilled a tank on one of their vessels, resulting in a release.  The district did not learn of the incident until approximately three weeks later.  Kauzlarich said the personnel involved committed several errors, including improper fueling, reporting and clean-up procedures.

 

Dave Pertuz reported that a Coast Guard vessel and two tows recently reported being deliberately sprayed by a crop duster.  The incidents all occurred on the Lower Mississippi.  Pertuz said local law enforcement agencies did not initially take the incidents very seriously.  However, the FBI did view the incidents with great concern.  Pertuz said he anticipates that reports of security incidents will increase, placing more pressure on response resources.  He stressed the importance of carefully documenting timelines and other information.

 

Pertuz also reported that the National Response Center has been designated as the sole reporting agency for anthrax and other bioterrorism incidents.  He noted that the FBI, Centers for Disease Control, and other federal agencies have not been acting consistently with this directive.

 

The UMR Spills Group’s next meeting was scheduled for April 17-18 in the Quad Cities.

 

With no further business, the meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m.