Public Invited to SpillSpotter Training Workshops

HIGHLANDS, NJ—The American Littoral Society announced a new statewide citizen oil spill response network of volunteers trained to respond to oil spills and other catastrophic pollution events in New Jersey’s waterways. Through this new program, SpillSpotters.net, New Jerseyians of all ages can get the knowledge and tools they need to help protect New Jersey’s abundant coastal wildlife, habitat, and water quality in the event of a spill. The Society will launch the program through a series of free, hands-on, field-based workshops in coastal locations around the state on May 21, 22, and 24.

“When the BP oil spill devastated the Gulf of Mexico two years ago, our office was inundated with calls from people who wanted to head down to the Gulf to help” said Tim Dillingham, Executive Director of the American Littoral Society. “Our new SpillSpotters program will give New Jersey residents the tools they need to help mount an appropriate response if a spill or other pollution release happens here.”

Raritan Bay and Delaware Bay are home to some of the most active ports and oil refineries in the nation, not to mention other dangerous chemicals. Giant tankers crisscross the harbors and load and unload thousands of barrels of crude and other petroleum products daily. The federal government has recently announced plans to move forward on leasing offshore ocean areas for oil and gas drilling. “Spills have and will continue to happen, putting  our bays, their tributaries, coastal Atlantic waters, beaches and wildlife at risk” concluded Dillingham.

“We want a network of trained eyes on the water,” said Stevie Thorsen, the director of the new program. “We will train volunteers how to spot a spill, how to describe it, who to notify when one happens, and how they personally can contribute to the official response.” She explained that, “Another important goal is to collect accurate data about the wildlife that uses the waters and coastal habitat in areas that are vulnerable to spills. This will give us a baseline to help prioritize responses and assess damage when it occurs. Our workshops will provide hands-on training for SpillSpotters to perform biological assessments of specific areas using seine nets, clam rakes, and binoculars to gather data.” Participants will receive a toolkit for oil spill response as well as information about additional training opportunities that can enhance their value as a spill responder.

After completing the training workshop in May, participants will adopt a coastal spot in their community to monitor and submit data back to the Society at specific times during the year. This is a great opportunity for individuals, science classes, environmental clubs, and scouting, civic, and faith-based groups.

The American Littoral Society invites members of the public who want to attend one of the 3-hour workshops to contact Stevie Thorsen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 732-291-0055. To get more information about the workshops and this program, visit www.spillspotters.net

The workshop schedule is:

Villas - Monday, May 21 at 4 pm – Lower Cape Branch Library

Waretown - Tuesday, May 22 at 4 pm – The Lighthouse Center for Natural Resource Education

Sandy Hook – Thursday, May 24 – New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium

 

This program is funded with a grant from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.