MALONE - The St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council Environment Division is taking part in a national initiative to create a coordinated spill response plan and is looking for community members with river access to help them out.
Matthew Thompson of the environment division said they are seeking property owners in Akwesasne with boat launches who would allow them to use their access to get boats and equipment in the water in case of a spill of any size, such as on the St. Lawrence Seaway.
The river access will be compiled in new a resource inventory/spill response plan called a geographic response plan (GRP).
Were really hoping to get the communitys help on this, Mr. Thompson said. We dont want to intrude on private property... with someones help, we could prevent a lot of bad oil chemicals from reaching the shoreline.
Mr. Thompson said deploying close to a spill can be key to containing it to the smallest possible area. He said in addition to watercraft and personnel, responders would need to get other materials to a potential spill site, such as booms and absorbents.
If youre on the river and you have a boat launch, dock, or access to the water... or if theres something in your area you want protected, such as an endangered species... we want to know about it, Mr. Thompson said.
He added landowners will not be asked to store anything on their property, but theyll consider it if someone offers.
The GRP will be designed by the environment division and coordinated with larger entities, such as the U.S. Coast Guard and the St. Lawrence Seaway, according to Mr. Thompson. He said the plans are being written locally and coordinated nationally so people who know an area best are coming up with a GRP that addresses their needs. For example, someone who has lived and worked in Akwesasne their whole life might be aware of a particular 100-foot stretch of shoreline that is an endangered turtle habitat when a member of the Coast Guard might not have that knowledged.
Mr. Thompson said the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 raised national awareness of the need for coordinated response plans and writing a GRP is part of that effort.
Anyone in the Akwesasne community willing to allow the environment division to use their boat launch can call (518)358-5937.