Meeting to discuss
responding to oil spills

A task force looks to guard
56,660 miles of Pacific coastline

The ability to respond to a large offshore oil spill in the Pacific area will be discussed at the annual meeting of the Pacific States/British Columbia Oil Spill Task Force on Tuesday at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

"The Prestige Spill: What if It Happened in the Pacific Area" is the theme of the conference.

The task force was formed 14 years ago to collaborate on oil spill prevention and response policies to protect about 56,660 miles of coastline, including the Hawaiian Islands.

Rear Adm. Charles Wurster, commander of the U.S. Coast Guard District 14, will give the keynote address at the meeting, hosted by the state Department of Health.

Seven response and salvage experts also will discuss Pacific-area oil spill response, and updated information will be provided on task force initiatives and oil spill program and policy developments.

A special roundtable will be held Wednesday on "Places of Refuge: What Decisions Are Needed, Who Will Make Them and When?" Delegates will explore how a decision is made on whether to allow a vessel that is leaking, or could leak, into a port or whether to send it to sea.

Laurence Lau, Health Department deputy director for environmental health and Hawaii task force member, said, "Planning and preparation are essential to protecting our waters, and we are very fortunate to gather so many key people with experience on oil spill issues."

Task force members are directors of the key oil spill prevention and response agencies in California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Alaska and Hawaii.

Events will be in the South Pacific Ballroom of the Hilton's Mid-Pacific Conference Center. They are free and open to the public, but advance registration is requested. Call Jean Cameron at 503-392-5860.


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