Researchers undergo free BP hazardous response training - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Researchers undergo free BP hazardous response training

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OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) -

By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) – The grounds of the Gulf Coast Research Lab in Ocean Springs converted into a decontamination zone Wednesday afternoon.  In the exercise, the class pretended that oil was encroaching into Mississippi waters.

"It teaches individuals how to handle hazardous materials.  So if we are to have a beach impact, oil impact here on our shores, they would know how to safely handle and move around any oily sludge or anything that would show up on shore," said BP Spokesperson Marti Powers.

The students split up into three teams.  First, the Entry Team donned plastic suits to protect themselves from head to toe. The Heat Stress Team was responsible for keeping everyone cool and hydrated.  The Decon Team also put on protective gear to make sure everyone was safe and clean.

"There's a lot of safety around that, from protective equipment you need to wear, protective equipment you need to use," said Powers.

The students are employees of the DMR and USM-Gulf Coast Research Lab. They signed up for the 24-hour hazardous training course, called HAZWOPER.

"We've been doing a lot of baseline sampling to get as much information as we can before we have a spill," said Harriet Perry, Director of GCRL Fisheries Center.  "I think after this exercise, we'll have a better idea of what it's going to be like to actually sample in conditions where we have oil."

The classes are hosted by BP. There is a separate 40-hour course.  Powers said thousands of people have taken advantage of the free training to prepare themselves for possible exposure to oil, or maybe land a job with contractors to help clean-up our beaches.

HAZWOPER stands for Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response.  BP said at least six classes have been held and more may be available in the near future, based on need.

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