BASS LAKE — The Madera County Sheriff’s Office added to its arsenal of public safety tools this week, taking possession of a new specialized “trailer” that will allow department personnel to react more quickly and efficiently to hazardous spills.
With the acquisition of the new “oil-spill response trailer,” MCSO personnel now have the ability to respond to a hazardous material spill incident without delay and deploy containment equipment immediately.
In 2018, Bass Lake alone saw eight boats sunk in various depth of water. Three of the sunken boat cases required the incident to be reported to Cal OES State Warning Center due to oil and fuel sheen on the water, which impacts the aquatic environment and elevates the human safety factor.
After those incidents at Bass Lake, deputies had no way of containing the contamination until crews from PG&E and various tow and salvage companies arrived on scene, in some cases, many hours or days later.
The trailer was purchased from Global Diving and Salvage in Vallejo, funded exclusively from grant money provided by Department Of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response.
“We are proud to have this equipment available in an effort to more effectively provide service for the needs of our community,” said MCSO Sheriff Jay Varney.
In 2019, U.S. Fish & Wildlife awarded MCSO’s Boat Unit a $35,000 grant to more efficiently combat hazardous spills that happen on the water. Part of the funds were used to purchase a supply of booms — super-absorbent material that act like a huge roll of paper towels to sop up hazardous materials from the water surface and below.
In the event of an incident, deputies are now able to spread the 8 x 10 foot sections of booms over spills immediately after they occur — instead of the former process, which required them to call in another specialist agency to clean up the spill.
As part of the grant award for the booms, which cost approximately $600 each, the Boat Unit also received the specially designed trailer, which will be parked lakeside. The trailer is designed to handle and process the contaminated booms and other hazardous materials.
“This [new trailer] will help us protect the fish and other natural resources sitting there in the lake that just got contaminated,” MCSO Corporal Amy Roussell, who oversees the Bass Lake Boat Unit, said last year after the grant was awarded.