First a quick call to the National Response Center . All he had to say was Operation 'Atka' and give his position from the GPS. That would start the official response, but as he knew from past experience they would need volunteer support. It took a few moments to hook his smartphone up to the satellite phone to access the internet. A few short messages to Twitter, Facebook and a couple of environmental forums would get the ball rolling. The politicians and oil companies might not like it, as they would soon have to be answering difficult questions before their PR people had time to brief them. They would not know who had leaked the info though, with a little care the internet could still be used with a fair amount of anonymity and in the few minutes since he had called it in there would be literally hundreds of people being contacted. . Now it was time to head back to Valdez and get into the local office where he was sure he would find what might best be described as 'organised chaos'.
John pulled into the car park at the Valdez office. A Coast Guard van was in his space, as they were the designated FOSC (Federal On-Scene Coordinator) in the event of an offshore oil spill he would not make a fuss. He parked up in his deputies spot, he could imagine the domino effect working its way though the car park until someone would grumble as there was no space left even this early on a Sunday morning. If they grumbled to him he would make sure they walked to work in future.
The Coast Guard Captain was already in the conference room that was the designated incident center and was rooting through the boxes of files being carried in by his Ensign. He glanced up at John and muttered, “I do wish they would label these boxes properly, I can't find my Incident Management Handbook.” John could not help but smile, “I at least have home ground advantage, my Alaska Incident Management System files are on the shelf behind you, if I can get past your boxes.”
The conference room started to fill up as the first local staff to arrive began to move phones and computers into place. John spotted his deputy in the corridor outside and called out, “Bryan, find someone to rustle up coffee and breakfast for the folks who will be in here, that's one essential that I bet is not in any of the manuals and give Martha a call, let her know what is going on.” At this point the Coast Guard Captain let out a cheer, “Got my handbook! Now to start work.”
Modern communications and a defined plan of action meant that by the time the coffee and sandwiches had arrived the incident team had already identified the source of the spill and had a USCG helicopter and cutter on the way to gather more information. Meanwhile the spill response vessels had left moorings in Cordova and they could start to work out how to secure and isolate the source of the spill.
What had taken many days twenty five years ago had only taken hours. John hoped that this time they could limit the damage to a small area. One thing still nagged at him, if he had not decided to go out and take a look at that bay, early on a Sunday morning, for old times sake, it may have been much longer before it had been reported. One of the actions he would be taking after they had this under control was to find out why the spill had not been reported by the vessel itself, he hoped that it was not that they had thought they could get away with it. Human greed and stupidity were still the greatest threats that the environment faced.