This past March, Brad Bryan, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the TTUHSC El Paso Center of Excellence in Cancer, was giving a talk on his research on the West coast in San Jose, California, when he found himself on a very different coast the next day–the beaches of Galveston, Texas. Before arriving in Galveston, he made a quick stop in El Paso overnight to grab a few things for his trip. Among them, a military uniform.
His trip to Galveston came with orders from the U.S. Coast Guard where he is a commissioned officer in the reserves. Dr. Bryan was recalled to active duty to assist with the spill response efforts resulting from the 168,000 gallon oil spill in the Houston Ship Channel, coined the Texas City “Y” Oil Spill. The oil spill negatively impacted over 60 miles of the Texas Gulf
Coast stretching from Galveston to Padre Island.
The 15-hour night shifts, said Dr. Bryan, was probably the hardest part of the deployment and took some getting used to. “Most of the affected
property was government property and public parks in the Texas City and Galveston area as these were the adjacent land areas nearest to the spill,” said Dr. Bryan.
These areas were critical wildlife habitats for threatened and endangered birds and sea turtles. “It was their breeding season, so they stood a huge chance of getting a negative impact from the oil,” he said.
Utilizing his extensive military HAZMAT training, Dr. Bryan served as a field demobilization coordinator, leading a team whose mission was to ensure operational efficiency by identifying and prioritizing the demobilization of response resources including boom, heavy equipment, and boats across multiple staging areas. According to Coast Guard officials, his efforts saved countless dollars for an operation that has already exceeded $85 million in mitigation costs.
Once the oil spill was successfully cleaned up, Dr. Bryan was asked by the national Response Center to write the On Scene Coordinator’s Report, an approximately 100-page document that will be sent before Congress. This document provides the historical record of the removal operations and actions taken in response to the Texas City “Y” oil spill.
Dr. Bryan recently returned to work and is looking forward to wearing civilian clothes again.