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Gulf Guardian Award Winners 2004

Partnership Category - 2nd Place

Project #: GG-04-28
Company: Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, TX
Project Name: Oil & Oily Bilgewater Recovery Units
Category: Partnerships
Project Type: Habitat

This project is the development, design, funding, construction, installation, and operation of six Oil and Oily Bilgewater Recovery Units in the Coastal Bend Region of Texas. It started in November, 2000 with a request from the City of Aransas Pass for assistance with an oil spill problem in Conn Brown Harbor. There was a major problem with discharges of waste engine oil and oily bilgewater from shrimp boats and other craft. Over the next three years a partnership was built, a solution developed, funding obtained, and units were constructed and placed in service. The Coast Guard and the Texas General Land Office (TGLO) both agreed that there was a problem with numerous releases and spills in Conn Brown Harbor. The solution would be to have a place for boats to pump out their waste oil and oily bilgewater. Unfortunately, there was no site or funding for a facility. Jim Needham worked with the Coast Guard and the Land Office to build a group of stakeholders dedicated to finding a workable solution. Meetings were held with the group and with individual partners to determine each partner’s needs and concerns. There were several obstacles including no place to construct a public facility, boat operators who did not want to go to a separate facility to pump out, and a lack of funding. The solution to the first two obstacles came with the idea to make a “portable,” skid-mounted, recovery-only unit that could be placed on private property, specifically the fuel docks where boat operators buy their fuel, oil, and ice. This would encourage boat operators to pump their bilges and dispose of their waste oil while they loaded fuel and other supplies. Other harbors and marinas asked to be included in the project. All of the stakeholders agreed to key conditions of the project and to share in project tasks. TAMU-CC obtained and installed the units, facility owners maintained and operated the units, and the TGLO removed and recycled the waste from the units.

Once the partnership was finalized and the design developed, Jim Needham wrote a series of grants to obtain funding for the units. Grants totaling $185,850.00 were obtained from the Coastal Impact Assistance Program, the Coastal Management Program, and the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program. During 2003, the design was finalized and the procurement process completed. The first of their kind units were installed during October and November 2003. Each unit consisted of a skid equipped with a double-wall 2,000 gallon bilgewater tank, a double-wall 300 gallon waste oil tank, and corresponding pumps and hoses. Six units were constructed and are located at Conn Brown Harbor, Corpus Christi Marina, Port Aransas Marina, and Fulton Harbor. Partners include TAMU-CC, TGLO Oil Spill Division, U.S. Coast Guard, City of Corpus Christi, City of Port Aransas, Aransas County Navigation District, Gulf King Seafood Company, JBS Seafood Company, and Odessa Pump Company. These partners operate and maintain the units, and provide the removal, treatment, and recycling of recovered materials at no charge. Since the beginning of 2004, when the units were activated, 20,587 gallons of oily bilgewater and 1,221 gallons of waste engine oil have been recovered and recycled.

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