The Texas General Land Office Oil Spill Prevention and Response Program believes that when it comes to cleaning up oil spills, practice makes perfect.
The best way to practice for spills is by holding frequent drills that allow participants to respond to changing scenarios and learn the latest techniques. Since 2003, the Land Office has taken part in over 2,000 oil spill drills, sometimes more than 400 a year.
The annual MEXUS drill involves hundreds of participants from other Gulf Coast states and Mexico. A staff member from the Land Office always represents the state of Texas as the State On-Scene Coordinator during the drill, in which a major oil spill threatens both Mexican and U.S. coastal areas.
During the exercise, a joint command post is established, staffed by spill responders from private industry and state and federal agencies from both nations. Participants must overcome many barriers to implement and practice the Incident Command System and spill response organization and coordination.
The annual MEXUS drills have resulted in much smoother cooperation between the two nations’ oil spill responders, as well as protection strategies for environmentally sensitive coastal habitats in the United States and Mexico. Information gathered from the drills are provided to local area spill response planning committees for use in updating response plans.