PORTS and Oil Spill Drills

PORTS participates in the U.S. Coast Guard's Marine Safety Office's oil-spill simulations for Tampa Bay. Periodically, oil-spill drills are conducted to test and hone the skills of Tampa Bay's oil-spill response team. On April 18, 1995 PORTS responded to a mock oil spill at the Florida Power's Bartow Power Plant (near the west end of the Gandy Bridge). Using a simple passive diffusion scheme driven by ECOM-3D (a sophisticated three-dimensional hydrodynamic model of Tampa Bay) and real-time wind, current, and tidal data from the PORTS system, projections of the progression of the mock oil spill were provided to the oil-spill response team in hourly increments. Several examples of the hourly projections are presented here. The simulated spill of 20,000 gallons of No. 6 fuel oil occurred at 0600 hours. PORTS spill projections for an hour later, at 0700 hours, indicated that the spill would spread quickly from the power plant towards the Gandy Bridge and that by 0600 hours the next day the spill, if not contained, would cover a considerable area of Old Tampa Bay and the shoreline area of Pinellas peninsula. (It is important to note that the use of a simple passive diffusion scheme introduces an unrealistic amount of diffusion into the spill simulation. As a result, these spill projections should be considered a maximum distribution of the oil spill.)

In the event of a "real" oil spill, PORTS would provide similar projections maps to aid authorities in containing the spill and anticipating its progress. A more detailed Lagrangian trajectory scheme, using output from a modified version of ECOM-3D and tying output into Florida Department of Environmental Protection's GIS resources-at-risk database, is currently being developed. This will allow authorities to quickly identify critical habitats in Tampa Bay threatened by an oil spill.

Bartow oil spill simulation after 2 hour.
Bartow oil spill simulation after 12 hours.
Bartow oil spill simulation after 24 hours.
Back to the Oil Spill Simulation Main Page

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