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Cedar Key, home of the ‘Hazwoper’

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By Ada Lang

Cedar Key is now the home of the Hazwoper. What-woper? HAZWOPER - Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response.

After eight hours of training by Emergency Response Educators and Consultants Inc., of Ocala, several Cedar Key, Rosewood and Levy County  volunteer fire fighters - including one woman, clam farmers, Police Chief Virgil Sandlin and Fire Chief Robert Robinson received a certificate stating that they had satisfactorily completed the “OSHA HAZWOPER Operations Marine Oil Spill Defensive Response Training.” 

It is quite a mouthful, but it means that now 16 people know how to respond, in the event of an oil or fuel spill, understand decontamination and safety procedures and when to ask for help. They also practiced pulling a 200-foot section of the boom between two boats, after spending the morning training at the community center.

The U. S. Coast Guard recently donated 1,000 feet of boom to the city of Cedar Key. It consists of 100-foot sections of floating pieces that are strung on a 1/4 inch cable with a weighted curtain that hangs one foot below the water. 

Up to four sections can be connected and pulled behind a boat, but the more that are connected, the more it drags on the boats. The boom can also be anchored down in particular areas or “cascaded” - where they are deployed about 75 feet apart to add layers of protection to an area. 

One-thousand feet of boom is enough to corral a spill around a boat or control the flow of material on the water in a narrow area. After it is used, it is incinerated. 

In addition, the city also has 200 feet of absorbent boom and spill pads that are designed to be placed on a smaller spill, do not absorb water and do not sink once they are completely saturated. 

If a large spill or event occurs further out from Cedar Key, the plan is that the Coast Guard would be in charge of containment.