Friday, September 4, 2015

Coast Guard honors Ecology employee

By Lisa Copeland, Spills Communications Manager

Elin Storey with R. Adm. Richard Gromlich
In Ecology’s Spills program, a good day at the office is usually one in which nothing happens. Most of the time, we draw attention only after something has gone seriously wrong.

So it was a wonderful change of pace last week when the U.S. Coast Guard awarded one of our own, Elin Storey, with that service’s Meritorious Coast Guard Public Service Award at a surprise celebration in Seattle.

Storey plans to retire at the end of September after 24 years working at Ecology in spill response, prevention and preparation. For the past several years, she has served as Ecology’s drill coordinator, organizing the regular training sessions that keep us prepared for accidents, incidents and natural disasters.

U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Richard T. Gromlich, commander of the Coast Guard’s 13th District based in Seattle, presented the award on Aug. 27. The Coast Guard’s second-highest public service award, it recognizes individuals who have made substantial contributions to the Coast Guard’s mission, or whose accomplishments have provided unique benefits to the public.

“In recognition of notable services that have assisted greatly in furthering the aims and functions of the Coast Guard, I take great pleasure in presenting this award to you,” Gromlich told Storey.

Gromlich praised Storey’s support for his agency’s marine environmental protection mission and the collaboration she helped build between Ecology and the Coast Guard.

“The most notable included development of the nation’s first-ever combined area and regional contingency plan,” Gromlich said. “Using the Northwest Area Plan as a foundation, she set rigorous measurements used in evaluating industry oil spill drills today.”

Although Storey devoted much of her career to preparing for the worst, she also played an important role in leading responses to actual spills, including the 1991 Texaco refinery spill in Anacortes, the 1991 U.S. Oil refinery spill in Tacoma, the 1996 GATX spill in Seattle, the 1999 Olympic pipeline explosion in Bellingham, and the 1999 wreck of the MV New Carissa freighter off the Oregon coast.

Linda Pilkey-Jarvis, Ecology’s preparedness manager and Storey’s supervisor, said the Coast Guard honor was a moving tribute to a dedicated public servant.

“This is a huge honor and I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more than Elin,” Pilkey-Jarvis said. “She has been such an amazing asset to our program – a great friend to Ecology and the Coast Guard.  I am happy for her, but we’re all very sad to see her go.”

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