Crisis Prep: Portsmouth Oil Spill Drill to Test Response Team

Mar 21, 2018

The Portsmouth Harbor scene during a 2015 oil spill training exercise.
Credit Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Federal and state agencies will act out an oil spill response scenario in Portsmouth on Thursday as part of a federal requirement to practice for a real-life crisis.

This year's drill imagines a winter storm damaging part of the local Irving Oil facility overnight, causing a large amount of oil to spill into the Piscataqua River.

Real-life winter weather will keep responders from running the outdoor part of the drill on the city waterfront this year. But New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services spokesman Jim Martin says the makeshift command center they'll run indoors is still intense.

"I feel stressed when I'm in the exercise because so much is happening, and so much information is flowing,” he says.

More than 100 people from the Coast Guard, local fire departments, and Maine and New Hampshire agencies are expected to take part.

These drills happen annually across the two states. The last one New Hampshire hosted was in 2016.

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