CLEVELAND — Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency crews demonstrated the capabilities of a Vessel of Opportunity Skimming System in Cleveland Harbor Sept. 12 in conjunction with other events during Great Lakes Week.
The 9th Coast Guard District and EPA Region V outfitted the EPA research vessel Lake Guardian to carry the VOSS, which is designed to assist in oil spill clean-up operations, if such a spill occurred within the Great Lakes. The VOSS is a portable side-skimming oil-recovery system that can be deployed from most work vessels over 65 feet in length.
Generally, the VOSS is installed on a vessel with the outriggers mounted on the sides of the vessel. The sweep boom is then connected to the outer most part of the outriggers on one end and the side of the vessel on the other end. The boom extends towards the rear of the vessel in a " J" shape and corrals the oil.
The skimmer is then secured to the vessel and placed inside the boom so it can collect the oil trapped there.
The oil collected by the skimmer is pumped into the inflatable barge. The barge is secured off the rear of the vessel and is pulled behind while the oil is pumped into it.
"This deployment illustrates the outstanding partnership between the 9th Coast Guard District and USEPA Region V, Great Lakes National Program Office, Coast Guard's National Strike Force and the research vessel Lake Guardian's crew in training in the use of VOSS and preparing for any possibl environmental disaster on the Great Lakes," said Anthony Mangoni, of the 9th Coast District Incident Management Branch.
The Exxon Valdez oil spill off the shores of Alaska in 1989 and subsequent major chemical spills highlighted the need for the Coast Guard to maintain a first-response mechanical recovery capability at the port level.
The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 provided funding for the Coast Guard to purchase the oil skimming response gear capable of responding to oil and some chemical spills. The Coast Guard with the cooperation of commercial companies and other government agencies prototyped, tested and developed the VOSS.
The first VOSS arrived in the 9th Coast Guard District in 1993 and was staged in Detroit.