Evolution of shoreline cleanup assessment team activities during the Buffalo 292 oil spill
The Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Team (SCAT) effort during the Buffalo 292 oil spill is noteworthy because of its evolution during the event and because it demonstrated the importance of having a pretrained pool of field personnel. During the initial phase of the spill, when oil was impacting the Galveston Bay entrance along the upper Texas coast, two teams were assembled by the Texas General Land Office and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientific support coordinators. The state of Texas had a large pool of trained SCAT personnel from which to draw because of extensive, interagency SCAT training conducted the previous summer. Although traditional SCAT methods proved too time-consuming to provide timely input early in the spill, they did provide information critical in gaining agreement on acceptable final cleanup levels. In the spill's second phase, as it moved southwest toward Matagorda Island and points south, the SCAT effort became more streamlined and was better able to meet the time constraints of the incident action plan. Significant time savings were realized by using cellular telephones for debriefing SCAT personnel in the field, placing mile marker stakes along the beach front to help identify shore segments, using simplified SCAT reporting forms, and marking buried oil and other areas requiring prompt attention with survey flags. These adaptations allowed the SCAT reports to meet the incident action plan time frame and to provide direct visual input to the cleanup crews without the performing the time-consuming task of sketch mapping.