NSU Receives $1.6 Million Grant to Train Oil Rig Workers to Prepare for Spills

Nova Southeastern University (NSU) recently received a $1.6 million federal grant to help train oil industry workers and others in related industries to better prepare for and respond to oil spills and hazardous materials events.

The 5-year grant from the National Institutes of Health’s Institute of Environmental Health Safety was given to NSU’s Center for Bioterrorism and All-Hazards Preparedness (CBAP), which is a part of the university’s medical school, the College of Osteopathic Medicine. The money will be used to train oil industry workers, law enforcement and those in the maritime industry to prepare for disasters as well as handle and dispose of hazardous materials.

CBAP has been working with one of its partners, Shell Oil Co., in Robert, La., for the past 2 years on related all-hazards preparedness training programs, which prepare oil rig workers for spills.

Dr. Cecelia Rokusek, CBAP’s project director and executive director for education, planning and research, called the grant “a significant expansion” of the training already underway with Shell. “We wrote the grant long before the BP oil spill, so we had no idea that the need for this type of training would become so critical,” she said.

“While we may not be able to prevent further oil spills, this grant ensures that we improve training standards to make the dangerous job of dealing with hazardous materials, such as oil, safer,” Rokusek added. “The needs for this type of training are urgent and ongoing.”

The project’s overall goal is to provide safety and health training to those who may encounter hazardous materials, including weapons of mass destruction, or who may respond to the clean up of hazardous water, such as an oil spill.

Another project goal will endeavor to train several thousand employees over the next 5-year period to react quickly to hazardous events. Such employees would include workers and supervisors on ships (including cruise ships), docks, ports, oil/gas rigs or oil/gas platforms, as well as law enforcement personnel

Kelley Davis, Ph.D., an NSU associate professor of microbiology and a CBAP faculty trainer, will lead the implementation of this new training initiative.

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